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Falling demand for energy shows China's deepening exposure to the global economic crisis, but it also offers an opportunity to build national reserves and cut waste, the country's energy chief said.

China's electricity consumption fell 8.6 percent from a year earlier in November and 3.7 percent from the same month the year before in October — its first such decline since 1999, Zhang Guobao, who heads the government's Energy Bureau, said in an article on the Web site of the communist party newspaper People's Daily.

"The mounting impact on our domestic economy from the global financial crisis and economic trends is clearly evident," Zhang was quoted as saying.

In recent years, China has sought to diversify and expand its access to energy resources to help meet soaring demand. Those efforts have continued, with a number of major deals signed in recent months.

At the same time, the reduced pressure on supplies, and lower prices thanks to slower demand means the country has the chance to adjust energy prices and technology, and to build up its strategic reserves, Zhang said.

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