China on track to produce more than half World's Solar Panels and Wind Turbines

Sep 28, 2010 Issues: Foreign Affairs
A few weeks ago, The New York Times wrote about the dangerous combination of China's undervalued currency, and ongoing subsidization of the Chinese green energy tech sector.
 
As the article details, China is on track to produce more than half the world's solar panels and wind turbines this year:
 
"The booming Chinese clean energy sector, now more than a million jobs strong, is quickly coming to dominate the production of technologies essential to slowing global warming and other forms of air pollution. Such technologies are needed to assure adequate energy as the world's population grows by nearly a third, to nine billion people by the middle of the century, while oil and coal reserves dwindle.
 
But much of China's clean energy success lies in aggressive government policies that help this crucial export industry in ways most other governments do not. These measures risk breaking international rules to which China and almost all other nations subscribe, according to some trade experts interviewed by The New York Times." 
 
America cannot afford to cede our leading role in the world economy to other nations, especially when those countries' gains come as the result of currency manipulation and failed trade enforcement.
 
Recently, the United Steelworkers filed a petition with the Obama Administration charging that China engages in discriminatory and unfair trade practices that are designed to protect and promote its domestic industries at the expense of U.S. jobs, commerce and know how. 
 
The Steelworkers' Section 301 petition describes over 80 Chinese laws, regulations and practices that cover a broad spectrum of green technologies, including - solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, hydropower, nuclear, and advanced batteries - which seek to benefit Chinese manufacturers to the detriment of their American competitors in violation of international trade law.
 
I support this petition, and believe that our government must work to ensure that U.S. rights under our trade agreements are vigorously enforced to secure a level playing field for fair competition for U.S. green technology manufacturers. To that end, 178 Members of Congress are joining me in signing on to a letter urging President Obama to encourage the USTR to take effective and expeditious action to address these and other unfair Chinese trade practices.
 
At the same time, we must work to forge strong public-private partnerships to create green jobs here in the United States. As we know, U.S. businesses and workers can "Make It In America," but they must have government policies that support their efforts to address harmful foreign government trade practices and that secure a level playing field for fair competition.
 
In July, I released draft legislation to provide over $25 billion in tax incentives to spur investment in domestic manufacturing facilities that make advanced energy equipment, stimulate demand for renewable energy, increase energy efficiency, and encourage the adoption of alternative fuels.  More information on the Domestic Manufacturing and Energy Jobs Act of 2010 is available at: http://waysandmeans.house.gov/press/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=11294
 
Last week, the Ways and Means Committee held two days of hearings to discuss China's exchange rate policy, the actions that could be taken to address that policy, and its impact on American businesses and workers. 
 
On Friday, September 24, the Committee passed a bill that would allow the U.S. government to respond by issuing punitive duties on goods from countries that keep their currencies artificially undervalued. As Congressman Tim Ryan, the bill's author, has said, we "cannot continue to look the other way as China's currency policies slowly but steadily smother what remains of our American manufacturing." That bill will go to the House for a floor vote this week.
 
Our nation prospers most when trade is on a fair and equal footing; indeed, it is the only way trade CAN work.
 
If China wants to become a full and active member of the global economy, they must play by the same rules as other nations and stop manipulating their currency.