China attacks US over energy dispute

The dispute between China and the US escalated this weekend, after China said the US probe into Chinese subsidies for alternative energy companies was little more than political posturing.

China’s top energy official, Zhang Guobao, said:

Does America want to get fair trade or a genuine dialogue, or get transparent information? I think not – it seems America’s main reason is to get votes.

He added:

Chinese subsidies to new energies companies are very small, but the United States subsidised new energy enterprises with $4.6bn in cash in the first nine months of 2010.

He might have a point, at least about the political rhetoric. Is it a coincidence that this spat comes at the same time as a parallel fight about currency manipulation, and just before the midterms? Or that the organisation bringing the complaint against China in the first place, the United Steelworkers union, is a major Democratic backer?

But you can understand why US industry is perturbed when you see the amount of money flowing from the Chinese government into its nascent clean energy sector. Beijing is soon expected to announce a clean energy stimulus plan that could direct as much as Rmb5,000bn ($750bn) towards new energies like solar, wind, nuclear and unconventional gas.

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