Opinion: US targets China’s clean-energy sector; that won’t help anyone
Published: Mar 03, 2022 08:02 PM
US targets China's clean-energy sector; that won't help anyone. Illustration: Tang Tengfei/GT

Illustration: Tang Tengfei/GT

Citing recently published research from American energy consulting company Wood Mackenzie and the US Department of Energy, VOA's Chinese language service on Thursday claimed that China's "monopoly" within the global clean energy industry chain is getting worse. China's "intensified monopoly" on the renewable energy industry chain is particularly concerning especially as the Ukraine situation causes huge impact on the international energy market, the report asserted.

For a period of time, US media outlets have intensified hype over China's clean-energy "monopoly," which is apparently in line with the current US administration's campaign to ratchet up "competition" with China in the area. 

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, US President Joe Biden did not forget to play up competition with China and called for boosting production in the clean-energy sector. The US needs to "level the playing field with China" and "double clean energy production in solar, wind and so much more," Biden said.

Given the win-win nature of clean-energy cooperation between China and the US, the Biden administration's slander against China's progress is puzzling. China is the US' largest clean-energy partner, which will help the US realize its plan to green the economy by 2035, according to Wood Mackenzie's research also shows that China is the most important source of imports of key new energy raw materials such as graphite activated carbon and yttrium for the US.

Affected by this twisted attitude toward China, the Biden administration's policies on new energy appear self-contradictory. According to the South China Morning Post, while extending tariffs imposed by former President Donald Trump on most solar panels imported from China and other countries last month, Biden opted to exclude tariffs on some panels used in large-scale utility projects. Behind such a strange move that do not conform to economic and trade logic, it is clear that the hostility and zero-sum mentality of the US government toward China are at work.

This self-imposed dilemma has also hindered the Biden administration's ability to deliver on its climate change commitments and boost green economic growth. Biden has repeatedly pledged to work with China on issues like climate change, and the US' goal is to establish a completely carbon-free electricity energy supply by 2035. Yet, research showed that the US' wind and solar sectors in 2021 fell far behind the Biden administration's ambitious goal. The total annual installations of the two sectors even shrank 3 percent last year, reports said. 

Slander against China's progress in clean energy reflects the anxiety of the Biden administration and its attempt to suppress China's clean-energy industry. But it has been proven that crackdown and decoupling approaches against China in clean energy is bound to fail.

For instance, for the purpose of cracking down on China's clean-energy industry, the Trump administration had imposed tariffs on China's clean-energy sector and attempted to lure industrial chains out of China. However, Wood Mackenzie's research director Alex Whitworth said that the Trump administration's policy failed. In fact, Chinese products and Chinese equipment have increased.

China's clean-energy progress will not be hindered by the US' crackdown measures such as imposing tariffs and smearing. The proportion of clean energy in China's total energy consumption has risen to 25.3 percent. China's installed capacity of photovoltaic and wind energy and production and sales of new energy vehicles all rank the first in the world.

If the Biden administration wants to "compete" with China in the global clean-energy sector, it must first view China's progress rationally and abandon the geopolitical calculations. It is hoped that the US can actively cooperate with China to jointly promote green development and fulfill its commitment to addressing climate change.

The author is an editor with the Global Times.