In this June 29, 2019, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump poses for a photo with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, western Japan.
Then President Donald Trump poses for a picture
with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 29, 2019.AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File
  • Trump and his allies have been blasting the Biden administration for selling oil to China.
  • However, reports show that Trump did the same thing in 2017 while he was president.
  • Records show the Trump administration sold 550,000 barrels of crude oil to PetroChina that year.

While former President Donald Trump and his allies have been blasting the Biden administration for selling oil to China, reports show that Trump did the same thing in 2017 while in the White House.

In Trump's first year as president, the Department of Energy sold 550,000 barrels from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve — or SPR — to PetroChina, a state-owned energy giant and China's largest oil producer, Axios' Sophia Cai first reported.

Reuters and S&P Global reports show that the 2017 deal was made for $28.8 million, priced at $52.30 per barrel. 

A press release from the Department of Energy also confirms that PetroChina was one of the buyers of American oil in 2017.

On July 11, the Biden administration announced that it had sold 950,000 barrels to Unipec, a subsidiary of Chinese state-owned oil and gas enterprise Sinopec. It was part of a broader strategy that uses US reserves to counter a global crude oil shortage stemming from the Ukraine war's economic fallout, the Department of Energy said.

The outrage leveled at Biden partially stems from his son, Hunter Biden, previously having ties with China's Sinopec through investment fund company BHR Partners.

It's not clear whether Hunter Biden is still involved with Sinopec. His spokesperson told The New York Times in November that he no longer had any financial interest in BHR Partners, though The Washington Examiner later claimed to have seen records that show the younger Biden still owns a minority stake in the firm.

The White House and a representative for Hunter Biden did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.

However, much of the GOP's criticism of Biden's deal has centered on the oil going to China.

Trump told Breitbart earlier this month that it was "inconceivable" that China was "getting millions of barrels of oil from us and we're the ones in shortage." 

When asked if he felt Biden's deal was "a scandal worthy of investigation," the former president said he thought it was "certainly strange" for the oil to be going to China.

Former Vice President Mike Pence also tweeted that the sale was "an outrage."

On July 13, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley called for an investigation into the Biden administration's oil sale. "Critically, the American people deserve answers as to how exactly the Department justified sending oil from the SPR to China," his statement read.

Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and John Kennedy of Louisiana also introduced legislation this month that would prevent American oil from being sold to China or other US enemies and rivals.

"It is reckless and inexplicable that President Biden would allow oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to be exported to China," Cruz wrote, calling it a threat to US national security.

Robert McNally, a top adviser on international energy policy to former President George Bush, told Axios that Trump's and Biden's sales of oil to China are "a nothingburger."

"Whether a refiner turns it into gasoline in Louisiana or the Mediterranean or the East China Sea doesn't matter because oil sloshes around the world and it all kind of is one big market and one big price," McNally said, per the outlet.

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