China Opens Massive Natural Gas Pipeline

Flikr/wwarby (Creative Commons)

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


President of China Hu Jintao opened a massive 1,140-mile natural gas pipeline Monday that will directly connect China to gas reserves in central Asia for the first time, China’s official press agency Xinhua reports. Though Monday’s announcement was largely symbolic—culminating in Hu turning a ceremonial valve—the new pipeline has significant implications for China, as it now has an alternative to importing most its natural gas through Russia. 

The pipeline connects Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan to China’s western Xinjiang region and will eventually reach cities like Shanghai, Guangzhau, and Hong Kong. But it isn’t just an effective delivery system for up to 40 billion cubic meters of gas for 30 years (about half of what China consumes now): the pipeline represents a shift in Asian trade philosophy. Referencing the ancient Silk Road created in the Han Dyanasty to transport textiles, spices, and other goods throughout Asia, Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev said the pipeline “symbolizes friendship and cooperation,” the Interfax news agency reported. Nazabayev appeared with Hu and other heads of state from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan at Monday’s valve-turning ceremony.

But just because the new pipeline lets China import gas through countries other than Russia doen’t mean the Communist country, with its ever-growing economy and ever-expanding energy needs, isn’t interested in working with Russia. Two months ago, Russian Prime Minister Valdimir Putun and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao signed a $3.5 billion natural gas deal while Putin was visiting the country.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest