China imported 91.12 million tons of crude oil and 28.24 million tons of refined oil in 2003, up 31.3 percent and 38.8 percent year-on-year respectively, the customs said Sunday.
China spent a total of US$16.5 billion for the imports, increasing by half from a year earlier, according to the General Administration of Customs.
Trade experts attributed the sharp rise to China's soaring economy, which grew by 9.1 percent last year and prompted demand for energy resources.
The rising consumption of motor vehicles and housing also contributed to the growing demand for oil products.
China had 96.5 million motor vehicles on road by 2003, when 2.07 million cars were produced and 2.04 million were sold. Car production is projected to top 2.8 million this year, a jump of 40 percent year-on-year.
Experts predicted that China would import more than 500 million tons of oil and over 100 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2020.
(Xinhua News Agency February 8, 2004)