Stanley's blog

Keith Bradsher’s article in the New York Times of 17 March is breath-taking but worrying for the West.

It confirms the incredible drive by China to lead in all relevant technological developments. Just imagine that China may produce this year two-thirds of the global output of PV panels, despite Europe’s long start. And last, and most important, it demonstrates China will in due time, earlier than we may think, have the right remedies for tackling climate change. It is therefore both encouraging for a world facing climate change but a bit depressing for our old continent. It is time that our scientific and industrial establishments focuses on the global perspectives.

Applied Materials of California, the world’s biggest supplier of equipment to make semiconductors, solar panels and flat-panel displays has just built its newest and largest research laboratories in Xi’an.

Bradsher says that Applied Materials is hardly alone as companies and their engineers are being drawn more and more as China develops a high-tech economy that increasingly competes directly with the US. A few American companies are even making deals with Chinese companies to license Chinese technology.

The Chinese market is surging for electricity, cars and much more, and companies are concluding that their researchers need to be close to factories and consumers alike. Applied Materials set up its latest solar research labs here after estimating that China would be producing two-thirds of the world’s solar panels by the end of this year.”

China, points out Bradsher, has become the world’s largest market for automobiles, desktop computers and Internet users.

“Xi’an — a city about 600 miles southwest of Beijing known for the discovery nearby of 2,200-year-old terra cotta warriors — has 47 universities and other institutions of higher learning, churning out engineers with master’s degrees who can be hired for $730 a month.”

Interestingly, the writer cites the Thermal Power Research Institute in Xi’an, which is China’s world-leading laboratory on cleaner coal, and has just licensed its latest design to Future Fuels in the US. Future Fuels plans to pay about $100 million to import from China a 130-foot-high maze of equipment that turns coal into a gas before burning it. This method reduces toxic pollution and makes it easier to capture and sequester gases like carbon dioxide under ground.

Bradsher is right “that tectonic shifts are under way.”

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  1. Hi Stanley, a comprehensive post. “Tectonic shifts are under way” in deed. So what? If you go back in history for 300 years or so, India and China were both highly developed (they only lacked military strength) and had a high share of world trade. One could argue that the last two centuries or so were just not normal, and now theses two big countries with their impressive brain- and manpower are coming back to where they belong.

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