The Footprint of the Chinese Petro-Dragon: The Future of Investment Law in Transboundary Resources

53 Pages Posted: 30 May 2019 Last revised: 21 Apr 2020

Date Written: May 5, 2019


Chinese offshore investments in the oil and gas sector around the world are on the rise. Like dragons roaming the seas trying to dominate the tides, Chinese state-owned companies are particularly eager to bid for oil fields in maritime borderlines. The article tells the story of how Chinese state-owned companies are over paying for oil on the US-Mexico boundary to gather experience on how China’s global competitors handle resource development conflicts. My argument is that Chinese participation in transboundary field development fits within a long-term strategy to master international legal regimes. The presence of these petro-dragons in borderlines is an example of the use of law as a tool for a rising global power; of an effort to acquire the legal know-how of existing dominant actors to eventually recalibrate it for the benefit of the Chinese people in the South China Sea. From now on the U.S. will have to consider the example it is setting for its junior rival in joint resource development zones. Petro-dragons are loose and drilling in the high seas ready to bring back home what they learn from the West. Is the North American region prepared for the challenge?

Keywords: China, International Investment Law, Gulf of Mexico, USMCA, Transboundary Resources, Oil and Gas, South China Sea, Unitization, U.S.-Mexico Relations, NAFTA, International Trade, International Laws of the Sea, Public International Law, Deepwater Expl

Suggested Citation

Garcia Sanchez, Guillermo J., The Footprint of the Chinese Petro-Dragon: The Future of Investment Law in Transboundary Resources (May 5, 2019). Tulane Law Review, Vol. 94, No. 2, 313-364, (2020), Texas A&M University School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 19-31, Available at SSRN:

Guillermo J. Garcia Sanchez (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University School of Law ( email )

1515 Commerce St.
Fort Worth, TX Tarrant County 76102
United States

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