China is now exporting oil from Japan and Australia to China as well as South Korea and Japan, as it tries to revive its economy, and its efforts have been met with mixed reactions from the countries that have long benefited from Chinese imports.
The move comes as the country struggles to boost growth, the International Monetary Fund warned last week, saying that Beijing was not doing enough to protect its economy from the consequences of global trade.
China has already taken steps to increase its imports of oil and other raw materials from the U.S. and other Western countries.
But it is expected to increase shipments of refined petroleum products, especially from the United States, and liquefied natural gas, and possibly from the European Union, which imports about a third of its energy needs, to compensate for China’s loss of market share to the U:The move to export Japanese oil was part of the government’s efforts to diversify its economy and boost domestic consumption, the Ministry of Commerce said.
It said China will gradually export oil to China and Australia from 2021, while the government plans to increase exports of Japanese goods to the European market, as well.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Monday that China would export about 7.5 million barrels a day of Japanese oil, or about 5 percent of its total imports from Japan.
The ministry did not say how much of that would be liquefyable or how much could be used for domestic consumption.
The U.K.-based think tank Oil Change International said that while China’s export of Japanese petroleum products was welcome, it would have little impact on its trade balance with Japan and the rest of the world.
“In terms of China’s trade balance, it will have no impact on Japanese exports, because Japan is a key contributor to China’s economy,” said Robert Stirling, an economist at Oil Change.
China, which has one of the largest oil reserves in the world, also relies heavily on Japan for oil and natural gas and exports more than a quarter of its crude to the country, according to the International Energy Agency.
China’s move has not gone unnoticed by Japan’s trade minister, Shintaro Ishihara.
He called the move a “great development” and welcomed it.
“China’s economic diversification strategy is aimed at providing support for the global economy and helping it regain competitiveness and growth,” he said in a statement.
“This is a good development for Japan.”
But many experts and trade experts said the move was not necessarily beneficial to the two countries.
“There are concerns about the potential of a negative impact on the Chinese economy and its trade, especially with regards to energy exports,” said Tom Heneghan, a senior researcher with the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
“But the government of Japan is also the largest producer of oil, so it is unlikely to have any immediate impact on that.”
China also has a history of manipulating its currency, with the yuan losing ground to the dollar in the last year.
The currency has been falling against the dollar since the end of November, as Beijing attempts to prop up its economy by cutting spending and cutting taxes.
The yuan has lost almost half of its value against the U, and is trading at around 50 cents per dollar today.
Japan has a close relationship with China, but the two nations have had tense relations for years, dating back to World War II.
Japan and China have a territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands, which China claims as its own.
Tokyo has also accused Beijing of blocking a Japanese-led military exercise in the East China Sea in 2014, in which it claimed most of the uninhabited islands.
China is seeking to gain access to the strategically important islands, which Japan considers its own and has repeatedly refused to recognise as part of its territory.
The Japanese government says it wants to protect the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands, where Japanese troops have been stationed since 1972.
The Japanese government has said it will soon lift its sanctions on China, including on the islands, but it has not announced any changes in its stance on the disputed territories.
The government has promised to make further progress on the dispute and that its government will continue to engage in dialogue with China to find a way forward, Ishihara said.
China does not yet export oil, gas or natural gas to the United Nations, but has long been seeking to do so, and it is not expected to import anything until 2021.
It also has yet to decide how to deal with the South China Sea dispute with the Philippines, which is at odds with Beijing over islands in the region.
China says it has an air defense identification zone in the South and East China Seas and that it will never allow the U-2 spy plane to fly over the islands.
But China also has been accused by some of building up artificial islands in disputed areas and is widely suspected of building airstrips.
The United States and other nations have also raised concerns about China’s activities in the disputed areas, including its building of artificial islands