My colleague Will Oremus noted earlier this week that the United States recently overtook Russia to become the world’s largest oil and gas producer, but that isn’t the only recent major shift in world energy markets. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, “China passed the United States in September as the world's biggest net oil importer, driven by faster economic growth and strong auto sales.”
There are a couple of caveats on this story, as Samuel Wade of China Digital Times notes. For one, the U.S. still imports more oil overall, but this is offset by its exports. The U.S. also still dwarfs China, which has three times more people, in per capita consumption.
All the same, it’s a major symbolic shift and one that will likely have major geopolitical as well as environmental implications. The need for secure oil exports has obviously been an important factor in U.S. foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East. But today, Saudi Arabia exports nearly as much oil to China as to the United States and China will soon be importing more oil from the Persian Gulf than the United States did at its 2001 peak.
Compared to the U.S., China’s diplomatic and military footprint in the Middle East is still modest. But it may soon feel the need to make its presence a bit more felt.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Right Target
Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.
The One National Holiday Republicans Hope You Forget
It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is
I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights
Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.
Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.
It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice
Or, why it is very, very stupid to compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice.
- School District Wants to Censor American History Curriculum to Make It More Patriotic
- U.S. Federal Prison Population Drops for the First Time in Decades
- Conservative Star D’Souza Avoids Jail Time for Illegal Campaign Contributions
- Moderate Chinese Intellectual Sentenced to Life in Prison After Show Trial
In Defense of HR
Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.