BEIJING (AP) — China has achieved another world-beating status its leaders don't want: Biggest oil importer.
China passed the United States in September as the world's biggest net oil importer, driven by faster economic growth and strong auto sales, according to U.S. government data released this week.
Chinese oil consumption outstripped production by 6.3 million barrels per day, which indicates the country had to import that much to fill the gap, the Energy Information Administration said this week.
"China's steady growth in oil demand has led it to become the world's largest net oil importer, exceeding the United States in September 2013,'" the agency said in a report. "EIA forecasts this trend to continue through 2014."
China's economic boom has raised incomes and increased its global influence. But it also has spurred demand for imported oil and gas, which communist leaders see as a strategic weakness.
Rising auto ownership has left China's cities choking on smog and added to pressure on Beijing from its own public to curb pollution and from other nations to rein in surging greenhouse gas emissions.
The United States, with a population about one-third the size of China's, still consumes far more oil per person than China does.
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