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China outstrips US as major consumer

China is rapidly becoming the world's biggest consumer of resources and is already ahead of the United States in many key indicators, according to a report from the Earth Policy Institute.
In the five basic food, energy and industrial commodities - grain and meat, oil and coal and steel - China has already eclipsed the United States as a consumer in all but oil.
Metal recyclers are already aware of how China is sucking up resources. The country is now using twice as much steel as the United States.
In 2003, China used 258 million tonnes of steel compared to 104 tonnes in the United States. These are levels that have not been seen in any other country.
China is also miles ahead of the United States in its consumption of other metals including aluminium and copper and the usage gap between these countries is growing further.
In all consumer product sectors apart from automobiles and home computers, China is ahead of the United States. This means that there are more mobile phones, televisions, fridges and televisions in China than in any other country.
The Asian country is now also at the centre of the world raw materials economy and is importing vast quantities of grain, soybeans, iron ore, aluminium, copper, platinum, phosphates, potash, oil and natural gas, forest products for lumber and paper and cotton for its world-dominating textile industry.
According to the report, this is having an effect on commodity prices and ocean shipping rates.
But it is also having an effect on China's foreign policy and security planning. It has recently built strategic relationships with resource-rich countries such as Brazil, Kazakhstan, Russia, Indonesia and Australia for products including oil, natural gas, iron ore, bauxite and timber.

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