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Study urges US to bring China into world bodies

Written by: Staff

WASHINGTON, Apr 4 (Reuters) The United States needs to bring China into the Group of Eight and other world bodies to deal with energy security concerns that could severely damage their relationship, the authors of new study said today.

The report, to be issued in mid-April, just before a visit to the United States by Chinese President Hu Jintao, says that despite strategic rivalry, major consumers Beijing and Washington are on the same side of many energy issues. The authors made a draft of the report available to Reuters.

''We should both be on the same side of the table vis-a-vis global oil markets,'' said co-author Kenneth Lieberthal, a China expert at the University of Michigan.

The Group of Eight comprises the world's most advanced industrialized countries, measured by economic output. Current membership of the G8 includes the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia.

The study, to be published by the National Bureau of Asian Research, warns of rising US-Chinese mistrust, highlighted last year in strident US political opposition when a Chinese firm tried to buy a major US oil producer.

China has also raised US hackles with its close relations with energy-producing states such as Iran, Sudan and Myanmar that are considered pariahs in some Western countries.

According to Mikkal Herberg, head of the Asian Energy Security program at the Seattle-based NBR, mutual mistrust between the United States and China is exacerbated by misunderstandings about each other's energy strategies.

The United States should work to include China in the G8 under a modified definition of that group's agenda, increase China's presence in the International Energy Agency and work to create a formal Northeast Asia Security Community, Lieberthal and Herberg said.

''We believe that the US can increase China's confidence about its intentions by taking the lead to build China more effectively into multilateral energy regimes,'' said Lieberthal, a senior advisor on China during the Clinton administration.

The Group of Eight, whose original membership has been stretched to include this year's host Russia, could be modified into a forum of the world's ''most consequential economies'' that would include China, the study said.

China would not easily qualify for membership in the IEA, which is formed of members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and presumes democratic political systems and high human rights standards, the report said.

Lieberthal said, however, that China could still build on its current participation in technical IAE workshops to become a ''committed part of the most serious dimension of the IAE effort, which is how to manage potential supply disruptions.'' Reuters SBJ VP0003

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