Strengthening the US-China dialogue

A high-level dialogue on energy cooperation, held this week in the United States, will advance joint efforts on conservation, efficiency and tackling climate change, writes top Chinese official Wang Qishan.

China and the US are two of the largest energy producers and consumers in the world, so it is highly significant that the fourth China-US Economic Dialogue, which will be held in the US this week, will promote long-term co-operation in energy, the environment and other related areas.

The Chinese government gives high priority to energy and resources conservation and the protection of the environment. It is committed to building a resource-conserving and environment-friendly society. However, China is a big and populous developing country at a stage of accelerated industrialisation and urbanisation. This has led to heavy consumption of energy and resources and made the task of protecting the environment a daunting one. To meet the challenges brought about by the pressure of the growing demand, we endeavour to achieve the following goals:

Intensify energy and resource conservation. We are speeding up the demonstration and promotion of the industrialisation of energy-conserving and pollution-reducing technologies and adopting higher standards on energy conservation in major energy-intensive industries, such as iron and steel, nonferrous metals, coal, electric power, petrochemicals and building materials, as well as in the construction and transport sectors. We are vigorously developing the circular economy and working to reduce energy consumption per 10,000 yuan of gross domestic product by 20% by 2010 from the 2005 level.

Develop renewable energy. We are promoting the use of hydropower, wind power, solar energy, methane and biomass energy to increase the share of renewable energy in the mix of primary energy consumption to 10% by 2010.

Actively adapt to global climate change. We are planting more trees and better protecting natural forests. We are focusing on improving the environment in key river basins and main areas and cities in China. We are striving to lower chemical oxygen demand and the discharge of sulphur dioxide and other main pollutants by 10% from the 2005 level, expand forest cover to 20% and increase the percentage of natural reserves in China’s total land mass to about 16% by 2010. It is also our goal to control degradation, desertification and alkalisation in 52 million hectares of grassland during the five-year period from 2005 to 2010.

There is broad scope for co-operation between China and the US in energy and the environment. China is the world’s largest developing country at a stage of fast economic growth. The US is the world’s biggest developed country with advanced technologies and rich experience in enhancing energy efficiency, developing clean energy, exploring and developing oil and gas resources, and preserving the environment. Stronger co-operation between the two countries in energy and the environment will enable China to respond better to energy and environmental issues and also bring about tremendous business opportunities and handsome returns for American investors. According to the intent of 10-year cooperation between China and the US in energy and environmental protection, the two countries should, on the basis of the principles of mutual complementarity and win-win progress, focus their co-operation on energy, pollution reduction and protection of natural resources.

First, we should build joint laboratories or research and development (R&D) centres for energy and environmental protection technologies and promote the development of platforms for engineering application of technologies, experiment centres for industrial application of technologies, and intermediate experiment centres for technologies. Priority should be given to R&D of technologies on efficient use of fossil fuels, energy conservation, environmental protection and development of renewable energy.

Second, we should jointly formulate and implement fiscal, taxation, financial and trade policies that encourage innovation and co-operation in and transfer of energy-conserving and environment-friendly technologies. We should put in place and improve mechanisms for venture investment in high-tech start-ups in the fields of energy conservation and environmental protection, promote the introduction of technology standard regimes in these areas, enhance intellectual property protection and implement government procurement policies that favour energy-efficient and environment-friendly products.

Third, we should use existing multilateral and bilateral dialogue mechanisms and exchange platforms to strengthen consultation and co-ordination, conduct joint training and academic exchanges of technical personnel, promote exchanges among non-governmental organisations and build a database for energy and environmental information sharing for the benefit of the two sides.

We sincerely hope that through closer dialogue and exchanges and deeper mutually beneficial co-operation in energy and environmental protection, we will promote all-round growth of the China-US constructive and co-operative relationship to serve better the interests of the people. Let us work together to enhance global energy and environmental security and build an even better home for mankind.


Wang Qishan is vice premier of the state council of the People’s Republic of China

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Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008