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China outstrips South Korea as world's No. 2 LNG importer

Beijing seen topping Tokyo by 2030 as it shifts from coal in anti-pollution push

A liquefied natural gas storage facility under construction in Hebei Province, China   © Reuters

BEIJING/TOKYO -- On the back of a massive government push toward cleaner-burning fuel to combat air pollution, China last year surpassed South Korea to become the world's second-largest importer of liquefied natural gas for the first time.

China imported 38.1 million tons of LNG in 2017, up about 50% from the previous year and slightly above South Korea's 37.6 million. While Japan was still the biggest importer at 83.6 million tons, China is widely expected to become the No. 1 importer in the 2020s or by 2030. And if the East Asian nation continues its "explosive" purchases of the fuel, neighboring countries may be forced to pay higher import prices.

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