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For evidence that China’s industrial sector rebounded with a vengeance in 2021, look no further than China National Petroleum’s balance sheet. The state-owned energy company earned $9.6 billion in profit in 2021—a 111% uptick from 2020, when China’s early COVID outbreak shuttered factories. CNP reported $411.7 billion in revenue, a 45% increase from the prior year. Reduced travel still weighed on sales of gasoline and jet fuel, but CNP more than made up for those declines with sales of chemicals that are used in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, automobiles, and packaging. China’s 2021 announcement that it aims to be carbon-neutral by 2060 is forcing the country’s industrial sector to reckon with its environmental footprint. In an effort to comply with Beijing’s target, CNP says its production of renewables will equal its output of oil and gas by 2035.
Xu Chang—Xinhua/Getty Images
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