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Talks with US to focus on energy collaboration
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China has prepared a long list of energy cooperation priorities for the US delegation that will attend the third China-US Strategic Economic Dialogue scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, a cabinet minister said yesterday.


Minister of National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Ma Kai said China needs "comprehensive cooperation" with the US in every aspect of energy, including electricity, coal, petroleum and gas, renewable energy and energy efficiency.


"We have prepared a China-US energy cooperation guidebook," said Ma, a key player in the dialogue mechanism in which Chinese Vice-Premier Wu Yi and US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson will head their respective delegations.


US Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez, too, will attend the talks.


Talking about the suggestions, Ma said the USA's "mature experience" in improving coal-burning efficiency, renewable energy research and technological transfers will become new "growth points" for China-US economic ties.


"The two sides should intensify their energy efficiency cooperation and increase their efforts in clean energy exploration," Ma said.


Chief economist of New York-based Environmental Defense Daniel Dudek said China and the US have the common problem of controlling emissions from fossil fuel combustion, especially greenhouse gases. And hence, sharing of effective solutions will contribute positively to reducing environmental damage both locally and globally.


"This is an urgent matter because China and the US by their action or inaction will largely determine how much climate change we have in the 21st century," he said.


Coal accounts for 69.3 percent of China's total energy consumption, and its large volume of reserves can help guarantee the country's energy security, Ma said.


"But we will reduce its percentage in our total energy consumption and apply cleaner technologies to reduce pollution and emission while burning coal."


The NDRC and the US Department of Energy signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in September to cooperate in increasing energy efficiency in China's industrial sector, which accounts for 70 percent of the country's energy demand.


Earlier, Assistant Secretary of the US Department of Energy Karen Harbert said the MOU could serve as a channel for US companies to export environment-friendly US-made equipment and services to China.


Ma said: "I hope the working teams from the two sides can finish preparatory work as soon as possible and put the MOU in action soon."


The NDRC has agreed with the US departments of Energy and Agriculture that the two countries will implement "comprehensive cooperation" in bio-mass research and use.


"This is our cooperation priority, and I hope we can act now," Ma said.


Trade surplus


US officials urged China to further open its market for US goods to reduce China's surplus of $133.85 billion. Gutierrez said: "Openness is at the core of the future of our ties. Maintaining openness is not easy, but necessary."


But Chinese experts argued that the country's surplus is "structural" and a huge number of US consumers benefit from the competitive imports from China.


US-invested companies in China have contributed a large percentage of the surplus, said Li Yushi, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.


(China Daily December 11, 2007)

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