Will “Buy American” Solar provision anger Chinese?

Posted by Dave Landis on January 13th, 2011 in China, China | No Comments

Will Chinese President Hu Jintao express displeasure over the "Buy American" solar panel law to Obama?

During its lame-duck session last month, Congress put a “Buy America” provision in a law mandating that the US military buy only solar cells that are made in America.  President Obama signed the law.

Since China has emerged in the last two years as world’s largest supplier of solar panels, they view this action as protectionism.   It is speculated that Chinese President Hu Jintao will raise the issue with President Obama when he visits the US next week because it has raised the Chinese’ ire.

The US military is leading the effort to “go green” largely for security reasons.    Transporting fossil fuels to installations in places such as Afghanistan can be a security risk, so having solar photovoltaics on base would be a plus.

However, Eric Wesoff asks a very pertinent question about this protectionist move by the US:

“What if it turns out that the materials that go into those Chinese solar panels are American-made?  The United States is actually a net exporter of solar energy products, with total net exports of $723 million in 2009″.

Westoff points out that by making it illegal to buy Chinese solar panels, Congress may very well be harming the people they want to protect:  Americans.

What do you think?  Do you think the Chinese have cause to be angry about this bill?


 

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