China’s government has said it is willing to work with the US on future oil, gas and renewable energy projects, as well as on global energy security issues.
“In the field of energy, China and the US are not competitors,” Qin Gang, foreign ministry spokesperson, said during a press briefing. “China stands ready to co-operate with the US and other countries … on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.”
Mr Qin was responding to comments earlier this week by Dick Lugar, the influential US Senator, who said it was crucial for Washington to broaden its energy co-operation with China and India. US energy dependence was “the albatross” of its national security, he said.
China’s pursuit of resources around the world, including in countries shunned by the west – such as Iran, Sudan and Burma – has caused friction with the US and anger in Congress.
“There is great potential for the two countries and an extensive range of areas for co-operation,” said Mr Qin. “We must have a very active approach.”
Mr Qin did not give further details. Mr Lugar, who chairs the Senate foreign relations committee, had suggested the US needed to expand international co-operation to prepare for major disruptions in oil supply. Beijing has been mapping out plans to store oil in strategic reserves at four main locations around the country.
Han Xiaoping, CEO of Falcon Power, an energy consultancy in Beijing, said the US and China should work together on natural gas exploration, perhaps with American companies becoming more active in China. “Not co-operating will allow natural gas prices to stay high, causing losses for both countries,” he said.
Sergei Razov, Russia’s ambassador to Beijing, said the two countries were continuing discussions on a possible oil pipeline from Siberia to supply China. He said Russia planned to transport 15m tons of crude oil to China by rail this year.
Mr Razov said other talks had focused on Russia exporting natural gas to its neighbour and the two jointly developing nuclear power. Energy issues are expected to top the agenda when Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visits Beijing next week.