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While the Chinese public has not seized on the accident as its own version of the massive BP spill in the United States, warnings over the country’s increasing dependence on oil were clear.

The International Energy Agency said Tuesday that China has overtaken the United States as the world’s largest energy consumer, using the equivalent of 2.252 billion tons of oil last year. China immediately questioned the calculation.

China was a spectator of the Gulf of Mexico incident, but suddenly it itself has attracted attention from the whole world,” Sima Pingbang, the executive chief-editor of environmental protection website chinaepr, wrote Monday of the explosion and spill. “Chinese can no longer live above such things.”

The slick of surface oil in the Gulf of Mexico spill was 2,700 square miles late last week, far dwarfing the China spill.

But Ms. Yang worried that the scope of the Dalian spill was worse than reported so far.

“We need to send more independent voices out there,” she said.