“The Resource Conspiracy”

“It is the best of times, it is the worst of times.” So states Liu Runmo, author of The Resource Conspiracy. Although unprecedented technological advances have improved the efficiency of resource use, we are still facing scarcity of many resources in the 21st century – including water, oil, iron ore, rare earths and coal. Reserves of these resources are of crucial strategic significance for any nation – and particularly one that hopes to play an important role on the international stage.

And so faced with ever-scarcer resources, nations put on a public face – in what the author terms a “resource conspiracy”. The United States claims its attack on Iraq is to “eliminate weapons of mass destruction”. Japan has a “conditional” overseas-aid strategy. Russia, Norway and other countries struggle for geopolitical influence in the Arctic, opening scientific outposts that are more about development.

It may be dressed up in different ways, but acquisition of resources is both the primary motive and the ultimate aim, and so a resource conspiracy web is spun. According to the author, “resources” are not just material goods; human resources, finance and public order are also intangible assets reflecting a nation’s “soft power”, and slower-developing states often are taken advantage of, sacrificed in the struggle. The south-east Asian financial crisis of 1998, Greece’s debt shock in 2009 and the climate-change threat to island nations all are prime examples.

Holding that these international developments are caused by the “conspiracy” to seize resources, Liu Runmo unveils the hidden political game-playing between nations.

The Resource Conspiracy
Liu Runmo
Science Press, 2011

— By Yang Jie

Yang Jie, a chinadialogue intern, is a graduate in international politics from Renmin University of China.