China’s Framing Dilemma

Written by Joelle Lama

Edited by Sarah Mejia

The People’s Republic of China is the world’s second largest economy by nominal GDP. It then comes as no surprise that China is making apparent moves on the U.S. oil industry by constructing a factory that China Petrochemical Corp. will use to convert coal to gasoline. A spokesman for the company has stated that they plan to “offer the U.S. energy market high technology value and high quality engineering services for both sides to achieve a mutually beneficial win-win.”

This expansion of the Chinese oil industry presents ethical issues, particularly issues of framing, that are posed towards the American public. Their use of framing delimits the scope of the situation and the extent to which their expansion affects the U.S. oil industry. This innovative factory will convert coal to gasoline while simultaneously capturing carbon dioxide that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. China Petrochemical Corp. frames the issue by claiming that it is beneficial for both the environment and the US. Although a response from the U.S. oil industry has not yet been elicited, the industry is likely opposed to the competition from China Petrochemical Corp.’s move on U.S. soil.

This expansion onto U.S. soil will result in competition from China in an unusual way. They are redefining coal technology as an environmental issue without addressing the problem that the U.S. oil industry will undoubtedly face fierce competition from the Chinese expansion.

Although China Petrochemical Corp. has not yet formally announced their decision as to whether or not they will hire American employees, this action could lead to the Chinese redefining the issue by claiming it to be a win-win situation. By hiring American employees, their expansion into the U.S. Could be seen as more acceptable by providing work. It is then possible for the U.S. oil industry to respond by potentially claiming that the expansion hurts them since the Chinese would gain a competitive advantage against the U.S. industry. Moreover, while China Petrochemical Corp. may see this as a way to boost economic development in the depressed areas of the coal belt, U.S. energy companies involved with natural gas could perceive this as a threat to them, insisting that one shouldn’t see this as an environmental benefit but rather framed as an unfair competitive advantage.

In conclusion, the expansion of China onto U.S. soil leads to framing by both China Petrochemical Corp. and the U.S. oil industry. The Chinese frame the issue as being beneficial to both parties, as well has having positive environmental impacts. Although a response has not yet been elicited by the U.S. oil industry, their response could potentially lead to them claiming that this expansion is a threat that creates a competitive advantage directed towards them, which further frames the issue in their defense. Clearly, framing should not occur, and instead, energy problems should be solved by finding economic ways to meet environmental challenges while keeping the American people employed.


**Due to technical difficulties, we recently had to switch domains and transfer all of our website content.  Please keep in mind that while we have been publishing articles for two years, the published dates shown may not reflect the initial publish date.


Spegele, Brian. “China’s Sinopec Moves Into Small US Town.” Wall Street Journal 06 Nov. 2012: B1-B2. Wall Street Journal. 5 Nov. 2012. Web. 6 Nov. 2012.

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