Hard on the heels of his meeting in Beijing with Tony Blair, Chinas president Hu Jintao set off on a tour of North America. While his trips to Canada and Mexico went ahead as planned, the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina forced US president George Bush to cancel his planned official meeting with Hu. The two leaders were expected to meet, however, at the United Nations summit in New York.
One key area of concern between the two giant nations is Chinas rapidly growing thirst for oil. Both Bush and Hu, then, would probably have sighed in relief when they heard Russian president Vladimir Putins assertions that China would be first in line to receive oil exports from a new pipeline being built through Siberia. Due for completion in 2008, the pipeline initially will carry up to 30 million tons of oil per yeartwo thirds of which is now likely to go to China.