The Chinese government and the national oil companies (NOCs): who is the principal?

Janet Xuanli Liao (Lead / Corresponding author)

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    14 Citations (Scopus)


    China has conducted six government reforms over the past three decades to separate government functions from the major industries. These reforms enabled a number of national oil companies (NOCs) to be established in the 1980s, and the NOCs were further listed in the international stock markets in the new century. However, due to the incomplete government and enterprise reforms, the government has not been very successful in playing a role as the ‘principal’ to make the NOCs as an ‘agent’ to manage China's petroleum industry on its behalf. A sensible government–NOCs relationship may be created by either further removing the NOCs’ political functions, and strengthening China's energy market mechanism, or by establishing a Super-Energy Ministry that can assert fundamental authority over the NOCs, and manage the energy sector.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)44-59
    Number of pages16
    JournalAsia Pacific Business Review
    Issue number1
    Early online date12 Aug 2014
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2015


    • China
    • energy ministry
    • fuel price
    • government reforms
    • NOCs' monopoly
    • principal-agent theory


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