Former Vice President Joe Biden asked China’s leaders last month to release their country’s strategic oil reserves in an effort to ease higher prices and bolster economic cooperation, CNBC reported Friday.
After U.S. President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on the Iranian oil exports, Chinese officials suspended buying 10 million barrels of oil from Iran, and prices have since spiked as the world’s largest buyer of Iranian oil has to find new sources to meet its needs.
China has now amassed 70 million barrels of strategic oil reserves, and the reserves are to be used in times of emergency, such as “electricity blackouts or oil shortages due to conflict.”
But China was forced to access the reserves in part because other buyers were also being forced to suspend Iranian oil imports.
“I specifically asked the Chinese government to release its strategic oil reserves,” Biden told CNBC’s Chuck Todd on Feb. 1 in Davos, Switzerland. “There’s a big difference between this policy, which is designed to significantly limit Iranian oil exports, and this strategy which is designed to undermine the OPEC production cuts” agreed to by Saudi Arabia, Russia and several other non-OPEC nations.
Biden said the oil crisis “provides an opening to increase our exports to them in ways that haven’t been done in a long time,” according to CNBC. Biden’s comments were reported by CNBC in news reports on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Chinese state officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Biden also reportedly told CNBC that he had high hopes for a “very robust” summit between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping later this year, saying that the North Korea nuclear crisis “will provide the first opportunity for substantive interactions.”