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China's growing energy demand "legitimate": IEA economist

07-28-2010 10:54 BJT

PARIS, July 27 (Xinhua) -- During the process of rapid economic development, "China will need energy, and it is very legitimate," Fatih Birol, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency (IEA), said Tuesday.

Last week, the Paris-based energy adviser published a report ranking China as the biggest energy user in the world, which sparked international concern over Beijing's influence on global energy markets.

However, Birol, the economist who presented the report, said that surprise is not the expected response to the report.

"A year ago, China was a very small margin behind the United States. It's normal because as a developed country, the U.S. energy demand is not as strong as China's," he said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

China's outstanding economic expansion is the major driving force behind climbing energy demand, Birol said. "It's legitimate," he said. "It's a very normal development. There is nothing surprising here."

"When we look at the economic development process of the United States or Europe, they also needed a lot of energy. Now it is China's turn to grow," Birol said.

The United States has been the world's biggest energy user through the past century and consumed twice as much energy as China in 2000.

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