An essay by Thomas L. Friedman suggests that when historians look back at 2008-09, they will conclude that the most important thing to happen in this period was that Red China decided to become Green China. Neither term in being used here in a pejorative sense.
China’s leaders have decided to go green out of necessity because unless China powers its development with cleaner energy systems, and more knowledge-intensive businesses without smokestacks, China will die of its own development.
China decided it has to go green out of necessity. You will not just be buying your toys from China. You will buy your next electric car, solar panels, batteries and energy-efficiency software from China.
The essayist believes this Chinese decision to go green is the 21st-century equivalent of the Soviet Union’s 1957 launch of Sputnik — the world’s first Earth-orbiting satellite.
Sputnik just went up again: China’s going clean-tech. China is focused on low-cost manufacturing of solar, wind and batteries and building the world’s biggest market for these products. It still badly lags the US in innovation. Research will follow the market. America’s premier solar equipment maker, Applied Materials, is about to open the world’s largest privately funded solar research facility — in Xian, China.
The New York Times which runs this very readable and thought-provoking essay in full ends up with "China is embarking on a new, parallel path of clean power deployment and innovation. It is the Sputnik of our day. We ignore it at our peril."