China’s Ministry of Finance has announced it will apply tax rebates to imports of natural gas, in an effort to encourage use of the cleaner fuel, state media reported. The rebates will apply to imports from 2011 through 2020, and earlier in the case of imports from central Asia. Import costs are often higher than domestic wholesale prices, and the rebates will benefit companies like PetroChina (PTR.NYSE) which operates a central-Asia pipeline project. Critics say the tax reductions are not enough to stimulate significant demand for liquified natural gas (LNG) in the short run and that the rebates should be extended past 2020. Imports currently account for 20% of consumption and are likely to rise to 33% by 2020, while demand is expected to triple over the same period. China imported a record 1.18 million tons of LNG in July, after opening a new terminal in Jiangsu province in May.