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Asia's Empty Tank

Courtesy Reuters

ALL REVVED UP AND NO WAY TO GO

For nearly 15 years, since oil shock began to recede, energy has had remarkably low priority in global policy councils. The time has come for a reevaluation, and nowhere is one more urgent than in the Pacific. Major changes in East Asian energy patterns are creating both danger and opportunities for troubled trans-Pacific relations chronically oriented toward the past.

Asia's emerging energy problems cut subtly across the conventional boundary between economics and security. They have been further masked by the temporary collapse of demand in many markets, such as eastern Europe, since 1990. But they are no less perilous for their obscurity.

The coming decade--if buoyant economic growth continues in Asia, as seems likely--holds the potential for severe strains between Asian powers as regional oil markets tighten while contenders for supplies grow more diverse and competitive. China, Japan, the Koreas, and most Association of

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