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Global Networks and the Two Faces of Chinese National Oil Companies

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This paper investigates the patterns of transnational investments and alliances of Chinese state-owned oil companies since the mid-1990s and the social networks of their directors, taking the case of cnpc and its listed subsidiary PetroChina as the example. Using Social Network Analysis, I will map how the oil companies and their directors are embedded in corporate and political networks both inside and outside China. The preliminary findings presented in this study show that with their overseas expansion, cnpc and PetroChina increasingly collaborate with other oil companies. Significantly, also forming what I have called ‘hybrid alliances’ with Western private oil majors. However, they remain wedded to a different role at home, where they are expected to adhere to priorities and values tightly knit to the state, such as supply security and social responsibilities. This duality is mirrored by the Chinese oil company directors who must maintain a balancing act between their ‘two faces’ of corporate managers, on the one hand, and commitments to party-state interests, on the other.

Affiliations: 1: VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science and Public


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