China's government rejected a report Tuesday that it became the world's biggest energy consumer last year, passing the United States.
News reports citing data from the International Energy Agency said China consumed the equivalent of 2.252 billion tons of oil last year, slightly above U.S. consumption of 2.17 billion tons.
"IEA's data on China's energy use is unreliable," said Zhou Xian, an official with the Chinese Cabinet's National Energy Administration, quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency.
China's energy demand has surged amid rapid economic growth and the communist government is sensitive to complaints it is pushing up prices on global markets and adding to pollution and emissions of climate-changing gases.
Xinhua cited data from China's National Bureau of Statistics that said China's energy consumption last year was equal to 2.132 billion tons of oil, less than the figure cited by the Paris-based IEA.
According to Xinhua, Zhou said the IEA "still lacked understanding about China's relentless efforts to cut energy use and emissions, notably the country's aggressive expansion of new energy development."
China has invested heavily in hydroelectric dams, wind turbines and nuclear power plants in an attempt to cut rising reliance on imported oil and gas, which its leaders see as a national security risk.
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