China’s Cars, Accelerating A Global Demand for Fuel
By Ariana Eunjung Cha Washington Post Foreign Service Monday, July 28, 2008; A01
SONGJIANG, China — Nodding his head to the disco music blaring out of his car’s nine speakers, Zhang Linsen swings the shiny, black Hummer H2
out of his company’s gates and on to the spacious four-lane road.
Running a hand over his closely shaved head, Zhang scans the expanse of high-end suburban offices and villas that a decade ago was just another patch of farmland outside of Shanghai. To his left is a royal blue sedan with a couple and a baby, in front of him a lone young woman being chauffeured in a van.
“In China, size matters,” says Zhang, the 44-year-old founder of a media and graphic design company. “People want to have a car that shows off their status in society. No one wants to buy small.”
Gasoline would still be a buck-fifty a gallon if it wasn’t for those damned Chinese.
China alone accounts for about 40 percent of the world’s recent increase in demand for oil, burning through twice as much now as it did a decade ago. Fifteen years ago, there were almost no private cars in the country. By the end of last year, the number had reached 15.2 million.
Not 40% of the oil use–40% of the increase. Their total car ownership amounts to what we buy in a single year at the American dealerships.
And now they want what we’ve always had. How corrupt and greedy of them.