The Biden administration’s top energy official held multiple talks with China National Energy Administration chairman Zhang Jianhua days before the United States moved to release oil from its strategic reserve in 2021.
According to internal Energy Department calendars obtained by Fox News, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm spoke with Zhang one-on-one multiple times in meetings that had not previously been made known to the public. Granholm and Zhang met on November 19 and November 21, 2021, just days prior to the administration's announcement that they would be releasing oil from the strategic reserve on November 23. The timing of Granholm's meetings has critics questioning China's level of influence over the Biden administration's energy policy.
"Secretary Granholm's multiple closed-door meetings with a CCP-connected energy official raise serious questions about the level of Chinese influence on the Biden administration’s energy agenda," Americans for Public Trust executive director Caitlin Sutherland told Fox News.
The Energy Department said in a statement to Fox News that the meetings were part of the Biden administration's efforts to combat climate change but did not specify what was discussed.
The Biden administration last year oversaw sales of about 250 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, bringing the nation's backup fuel supply to its lowest level since 1983. Nearly one million barrels went to Unipec, the trading arm of the Chinese state-controlled gas giant Sinopec, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
Republicans have accused the Biden administration of mismanaging the strategic oil reserve and undermining U.S. energy security, according to House Republicans.
The Chinese sales have highlighted first son Hunter Biden's ties to Sinopec. Biden—whose influence peddling in China and other foreign countries is the subject of multiple congressional investigations—cofounded a private a private equity firm that in 2015 bought $1.7 billion stake in Unipec’s parent company.
In recent months, the Biden administration has boasted about efforts to replenish the strategic oil reserve, "at a good deal for American taxpayers." Recent U.S. moves to buy oil, however, have been delayed due to persistently high global energy prices.
"Instead of focusing on creating real energy independence for America, Granholm has been too busy parroting Chinese energy propaganda and insisting ‘we can all learn from what China is doing,’" Sutherland said. "The public deserves to know the extent to which Chinese officials are attempting to infiltrate U.S. energy policy and security."