What Japan Teaches Us of China's Quest for Resources

The Motley Fool's energy bureau chief, Joel South, spoke with Michael Levi about his new book, coauthored with Elizabeth Economy, By All Means Necessary: How China's Resource Quest is Changing the World. As the David M. Rubenstein senior fellow for the energy and environment at the Council on Foreign Relations, Levi is no stranger to the impact that countries and their decisions have on the rest of the world. In fact, Levi also writes a blog for the CFR, Energy, Security, and Climate, where he discusses the relationship between energy, the world, and its inhabitants.

In By All Means Necessary, Levi analyzes the impacts and effects China's resource hunt has on the world and international affairs, specifically looking at the synthesis of economics, security, and politics.

In the part, Michael Levi talks about parallels he finds in the Chinese marketplace with other economies. Levi connects the Chinese resource quest that he writes about in By All Means Necessary to Japan's own resource needs in the 1960's and 1970's.

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Joel South: When you're looking at the Chinese resource quest, are there some parallels that you could draw on other emerging economies, either now or in the future? Or is this pretty much exclusively just in the Chinese market?

Michael Levi: The most striking parallels are in the past. If you read news accounts and academic analyses and market takes on the rise of Japan in the 1960s and '70s, and the demand for resources that went with that, and all the different Japanese ways of securing those resources -- overseas investments, state trading companies, tight links between diplomacy and business -- you see a lot of echoes of the fears that people raise about China.

Now, most of those didn't turn out to be warranted. I don't want to suggest that everything will turn out the same; China is not Japan. China is bigger, China aspires to play a different role in the world, so those will all result in different consequences.

But at a minimum, the experience with Japan tells you that you should not jump too quickly to the worst possible conclusions.

South: Very interesting. Well, Michael, that's all the questions I have for you. Once again, I appreciate the time.

Levi: No, thanks for taking time to read it. I always like good questions.

South: Excellent, excellent. There's a lot of good stuff, and our readers will be very delighted to read it.


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  • Report this Comment On May 18, 2014, at 1:49 PM, rlv1 wrote:

    Or will the quest China is on lead to conditions similar to those of colonial Japan prior to the start of WW II?

  • Report this Comment On May 18, 2014, at 3:27 PM, Richmond wrote:

    You're forgetting a large portion of China's quest for resources comes from making products for foreign corporations.

  • Report this Comment On May 18, 2014, at 9:30 PM, Bhalanee wrote:

    Fool's spinnings are mostly lies and propaganda to peddle your stocks higher.

  • Report this Comment On May 20, 2014, at 6:55 AM, losnyboston wrote:

    Military tensions rose in the 1960s and '70s? 

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