The US Department of Energy (DOE) will soon open a Beijing office.
Its aim will be to support Sino-US cooperation in the promotion of energy efficiency, energy supply diversification and the use of clean energy technologies. The office will also assist the two countries' cooperation in the area of nuclear security, the department said last week.
The Chinese side did not comment on the issue. However, as the announcement of the office's establishment came after officials of the two governments held their energy policy dialogue in Washington, the decision by the US side must have the blessing of the Chinese government.
Indeed, the move should be welcomed.
For the world's largest and second largest oil consumers, cooperation between the US and China will certainly be more mutually beneficial than their becoming bitter rivals for energy resources.
Their joint-work in promoting energy efficiency and supply diversification is particularly desirable at a time when China is keen to make progress in this regard.
China quadrupled its economy during the final two decades of the last century on the back of doubled energy consumption.
However, energy efficiency in private use and almost all major energy-consuming industries is considerably lower than the world's average.
Officials and researchers are acutely aware that efficiency must be significantly boosted. If not, the country can by no means meet its goal of quadrupling its gross domestic product again during 2000-2020.
It is the first time that energy has become a major problem for China's growth prospects.
The problem, however, is not new in the US, and a lot of experience has been accumulated there in combating it in past decades.
While China will also have its own experiences and skills to offer the bilateral cooperation, the country has much to learn from the US in energy policy formulation, energy conservation technology and development and promotion of renewable energy.
China's progress in this regard will benefit China, the US and the rest of the world.
Exchanges on clean energy use and nuclear security are also very important as China strives for less environmental impact from economic growth and building more nuclear plants.
In the light of all these, the DOE Beijing office is expected to play an active role in facilitating the exchanges and transfer of related technology.
The DOE's on-site staff are also expected to enhance the US side's understanding of China's energy sector. This will help reduce the US' misreading of developments in China's energy sector, as seen in the US House of Representative's attempt to block CNOOC's proposed takeover of Unocal last week.
First-hand knowledge the DOE's Beijing staff obtain will, hopefully, discourage politicians in Washington from unnecessarily politicizing business cases in the sector.
(China Daily July 4, 2005)