US, China urged to cooperate in energy
Updated: 2005-12-01 07:04
The United States and China should have a joint energy research and
development program, a senior US Senator said, warning that the two powers could
go to war in their insatiable quest for depleting foreign energy supplies.
"We are heading towards two thirds by each country on dependence on foreign
oil. Let's recognize this problem before it becomes an intense competition which
can actually lead to military conflict," said Joseph Lieberman, the Democratic
Senator from Connecticut.
US Senator Joseph Lieberman seen here in June
"Let's do it by each trying to diversify to clean fuels, alternative fuels,
hybrids, electric plug ins," he told reporters after speaking at a forum
"China-US energy policies: A choice of cooperation or collision?."
Lieberman, a member of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee, cited
the formal US-China dialogue process and said, "We ought to add joint energy
research and development projects to that dialogue and then begin to see if we
can work together."
He noted that President George W. Bush's administration had begun talking to
the Chinese authorities on the energy issue but added however that more serious
attention should be given to the pressing problem.
"What I am saying is: it needs to be urgent, it needs to be expanded. This is
one of those situations where if you step back, you see that China and the US
are in a very similar positions in terms of our dependence on foreign oil and
you can see conflict coming between us for the same sources of oil.
"Why not see it and avoid by cooperative action," he said.
The US and China now represent one third of total global oil consumption.
Their combined crude demand for 2005 is forecast at 28 million barrels per
day, out of a total worldwide demand of 84.3 million barrels per day, according
to the International Energy Agency.
The two countries' total oil consumption was estimated to rise by 2.7 percent
in 2005, compared with the previous year -- an increase of 740,000 barrels per
That means Chinese and US demand for oil accounts for 42 percent of the total
anticipated 2.2-percent growth in global oil demand in 2005.
A net importer of oil for the past decade, China last year overtook Japan as
second largest net importer of oil after the United States.
On claims by some groups that the United States could try to dampen China's
bid to acquire more oil from the open market, Lieberman said this was not
possible under normal market conditions.
"The problem is if competition between us continues, each country will be
paying an enormous amount of money to buy the oil and again, I worry that in a
crisis that could lead to hostilities between us," he said.
Asked what would be the "trigger point," Lieberman said, "We know that war
has been been fought over natural resources and we ought to be wiser and avoid
that in the interest of the Chinese people, the American people and the