Imports rose 4.5 percent in March over a year earlier even as the world's second-largest economy shut down to fight the virus and demand collapsed. For the first quarter of the year, imports were up 5 percent.
The price collapse is battering state-owned oil producers but is a boon to Chinese drivers, chemical producers, and factories. It gives Beijing a chance to add to a strategic petroleum reserve that is meant to insulate the country against possible supply disruptions.
"In the midst of all this, China oil imports have been resilient, as low prices have enabled stockpiling," said Peter Lee, senior oil and gas analyst for Fitch Solutions.
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