China consumed 450 million tons of crude oil in 2011, 254 million tons of which were imported. Of the imported crude oil, 58.8 percent arrived from, or was transported near, volatile areas in the Middle East and North Africa.
While China is one of the world's largest users of crude oil, it has only a 30-day strategic reserve of oil, much less than the 90-day supply required by member states in the International Energy Agency (IEA).
With the country so dependent on foreign oil to satisfy its growing energy demands, any slowdown or disruption in deliveries from abroad could cripple its economy.
To safeguard the security of its energy supply, China must not only increase its emergency crude stockpiles, but also diversify its sources of foreign oil. China should take a page from the energy strategy of the US, which has created plans to reduce its oil imports by two-thirds in the coming decade.
The author is Gao Wei, a researcher at the State Council's Development Research Center.