Saturday, February 21, 2009

china investing globally

NYTimes | China is taking advantage of the economic downturn to go on a major shopping spree, investing in energy and other natural resources that could give it an economic advantage it has never had before.

Some economic analysts say they believe that China’s investments pose a threat to competitors like the United States. In the last move, Beijing said on Friday that one of its big state-owned banks, the China Development Bank, would lend the Brazilian oil giant Petrobras $10 billion in exchange for a long-term commitment to send oil to China.

China signed similar deals this week with Russia and Venezuela, bringing Beijing’s total oil investments this month to $41 billion. They represent an important investment. Supplies of commodities like oil are likely to tighten again once global growth picks up, and China will have a toehold it lacked during the recent boom, when it grew phenomenally even with limited access to resources.

China is flush with cash — thanks to trillions of dollars from decades of selling goods to the West — at a time when credit markets are tight and collapsing commodity prices have left energy and natural resource companies desperate for cash. For many of these companies, China has gone from pariah to lender of first resort.

“This is heavy energy diplomacy,” Professor Andrews-Speed said. “If you need money, you go to where the money is, and today, China’s the place.”

President Hu Jintao of China traveled this week on his “Friendship and Cooperation Tour” in Africa, where China has huge interests in resources and mining. The vice president, Xi Jinping, visited South America, met with the leaders of Brazil and Venezuela and signed cooperation agreements on oil and minerals.

Venezuela borrowed $6 billion from China and agreed to increase its oil exports to China, bringing China’s total investment in the country to $12 billion. In Brazil, China signed a $10 billion “loan-for-oil” deal that guarantees the country up to 160,000 barrels a day at market prices.

And in Beijing this week, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao met his Russian counterpart after China agreed to lend Russia’s struggling oil giant Rosneft and Russia’s oil pipeline company, Transneft, $25 billion in exchange for 15 million tons of crude oil a year for 20 years.