Holiday travel rush congests roads in Chinese cities
Masses of vehicles move slowly during a traffic jam near the entrance to Lianhuo (Lianyungang-Khorgos) Expressway during the Labor Day holiday in Zhengzhou city, central China's Henan province, 1 May 2015. Feng lei—Imaginechina/AP

China Has Become the World's Biggest Crude Oil Importer for the First Time

May 11, 2015

China is now the largest importer of crude oil in the world. In April, it surpassed the U.S., which has traditionally held the slot, with imports of 7.4 million barrels per day (bpd) or 200,000 more than the U.S., according to the Financial Times.

The news comes as a surprise because the Chinese economy has been slowing and just this weekend, in an effort to stimulate growth, the People’s Bank of China cut interest rates for the third time in 6 months.

Over the next few months, the U.S. and China may be in and out of the top spot, but because American imports dropped by about 3 million bpd in the last decade (thanks in large part to shale extractions) and because China’s purchases have boosted seven-fold, the Chinese should be the top crude oil importer on a long term basis.

China overtook the United States as the world’s top energy consumer in 2010 and is already the number one purchaser of many commodities, such as coal, iron ore and most metals.

See the World's Largest Solar Plants From Above

Desert Sunlight where 8 million solar panels power 160, 000 California homes. Jamey Stillings for TIME
Desert Sunlight Solar Farm produces 550 megawatts of energy, equal to the output of a conventional power plant, near Palm Springs, Calif., where 8 million photovoltaic (PV) panels convert sunlight into electricity.Jamey Stillings for TIME
Desert Sunlight where 8 million solar panels power 160, 000 California homes. Jamey Stillings for TIME
Desert Sunlight Solar Farm produces 550 megawatts of energy, equal to the output of a conventional power plant, near Palm Springs, California, where. 8 million photovoltaic (PV) panels convert sunlight into electricity.  Jamey Stillings for TIME
The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, a 110 megawatt solar thermal power project, near Tonopah, Nevada. Jamey Stillings
The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, a 110 megawatt solar thermal power project, near Tonopah, Nevada. Jamey Stillings
The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, a 110 megawatt solar thermal power project, near Tonopah, Nevada. Jamey Stillings
Mirrored heliostats dot the landscape at the Ivanpah Solar Plant in the Mojave Desert, California. Jamey Stillings
Construction of Ivanpah Solar Field  One in the Mojave Desert, California. Jamey Stillings
Heliostat installation at the Ivanpah thermal solar plant in the Mojave Desert, California. Jamey Stillings
Mirrored Heliostats at the Ivanpah Solar plant in the Mojave Desert in California. Jamey Stillings
Mirrored Heliostats that reflect and concentrate desert sunshine surround a tower at the Ivanpah Solar power station in the Mojave Desert, California. Jamey Stillings
350, 000 mirrored heliostats reflect light onto boilers generating 392 megawatts of energy at the Ivanpah Solar power station in the Mojave Desert, California. Jamey Stillings
in the  Mojave Desert, California. Unlike solar photovoltaic plants, which generate electricity directly from sunlight, Ivanpah uses hundreds of thousands of curved mirrors to reflect and concentrate the desert sunshine. Jamey Stillings
Desert Sunlight Solar Farm produces 550 megawatts of energy, equal to the output of a conventional power plant, near Pal
... VIEW MORE

Jamey Stillings for TIME
1 of 13
All products and services featured are based solely on editorial selection. TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website.