Critics of China's energy use have ulterior motives

16:18, August 16, 2010      

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The National Energy Administration and National Bureau of Statistics recently made a clarification on the assertion that China had surpassed the United States to become the world's largest energy consumer in 2009. According to the official data jointly released by the two countries, China's total energy consumption is 200 million tons of standard oil less than that of the United States, and China's per capita energy consumption was about one-fifth that of the U.S.

The statement that China was the world's biggest energy consumer came as the International Energy Agency (IEA) released its statistics. IEA, a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organization, is viewed as an "energy club" of the developed nations. What is behind the false data on China's energy consumption?

Along with China's rapid development, Westerners have raised the specter of the "China threat." Other assertions such as the potential threat of China's population, of China's grain production as well as China's military strength came in one after another, and now they came up with China's threat to energy.

Some Westerners held that China's sharply increasing crude oil consumption would disrupt the stability and safety of global energy market, with the argument that China plundered resources in Africa and that China's large oil storage will lead to speculation on oil price. The IEA's report on China's huge energy consumption has become the headline story of major Western media, driving home the concept of China's threat to energy.

Obviously, labeling China as the world's top energy consumer would help Western countries put pressure on China with regard to climate change. Some industrialized nations criticized China and emerging economies for not cooperating on ways to reduce global warming right after the U.N. Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen last year.

The climate negotiations scheduled for this November and December in Cancun, Mexico this year will also be an opportunity for some to exert pressure on China. They tend to politicize energy consumption, urge all attendees to share the common responsibilities on climate changes but never mention to deal with different conditions in different ways.

Analysts say IEA had other intentions in naming China as the world's top energy consumer, merely showing off its importance and authoritativeness so as to urge China to join the organization. In recent years, China and some emerging economies have been playing a more important role in global energy market. But China, fully aware of its status as a developing nation, has always been cautious in joining IEA, which is dominated by the developed nations.

With IEA members losing their importance in the global energy market, the organization has gradually become insignificant and is in a greatly reduced state compared with what it used to be. Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once noted that the IEA would degrade into an inefficient, secondary and even a dispensable organization if without participation of those influential countries in the fields of energy production and consumption. As for the IEA, it is more important to get used to the new layout of global energy pattern and carefully handle the relations among traditional energy giants and emerging energy powers.

Author: Dong Xiucheng People's Daily Aug. 16, 2010
Translator: Zhang Xinyi


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