China 'not pushing for Africa oil deals'

By Zhao Huanxin (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-10-19 07:08

China relies mainly on domestic resources for energy supply and is not pushing for more oil imports from Africa, a senior planning official said yesterday.

Asked if a summit with African nations early next month would produce more oil deals, Zhang Yuqing of the National Development and Reform Commission said: "Whether China will increase oil imports from Africa will be determined by mutual business consultations."

The Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation will be held on November 4-5.

Zhang, deputy chief of the commission's energy bureau, told a news briefing that imports constituted less than 10 per cent of China's total energy consumption, and those from Africa accounted for less than a third of the imports.

Collaboration between energy-hungry China and resource-rich Africa is based on commercial considerations, Zhang said. About 38 million tons, or nearly 30 per cent, of oil imports came from the continent last year, he said.

"The scale of China-Africa co-operation in the energy sector is very limited at the moment," he added.

In the course of energy collaboration, China has helped the African industry in exploration, production and processing; and donated to the construction of roads and bridges, Zhang said.

He rejected US criticism of China's oil investments in African countries, such as in Sudan.

Chinese oil companies have sought to invest in the US, he pointed out, but oil giant CNOOC last year had to withdraw a bid to buy US producer Unocal in the face of political pressure.

The company said in July that it was looking at opportunities in Africa.

The country needs energy to fuel further development, but China itself is also a large producer, Zhang said.

"Our self-reliance is more than 90 per cent at present, and we will primarily rely on domestic production for energy supply," he said.

Officials have earlier said that in addition to overseas sources, China would develop clean, alternative energy resources and improve energy efficiency.

As this year marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning of diplomatic ties with the continent, China has invited leaders of the 48 members of the Forum on China-African Co-operation to further advance bilateral relations, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said yesterday.

Five nations which do not have diplomatic ties with China have also been invited as observers, Xu Jinghu, chief of the ministry's Africa Department, told the same news briefing.

The five countries are Burkina Faso, Swaziland, Malawi, Gambia and Sao Tome and Principe.

The Beijing summit is expected to adopt a political declaration and a plan of action on social and economic development, she said.

The third ministerial conference of the forum will be held on November 3, a day before the summit.