Chinese companies know technology -- and the U.S. political system, too.
China's A-Power Energy Generation Systems said it will build a previously announced U.S. wind turbine assembly facility in Nevada, a move that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saluted.
Last year, A-Power, along with Shenyang Power Group, U.S. Renewable Energy Group and Cielo Wind Power announced plans to build a $1.5 billion, 600-megawatt wind farm in Texas. China's A-Power Generation said it would provide the wind turbines and a Chinese bank said it would provide financing. After Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) complained that the project would lead to 2,800 jobs in China and 240 in the U.S., A-Power announced it would build a factory in the U.S. that would employ 1,000. So now Schumer and Reid are placated and in a few years people in Texas will get power.
Just so no one misses the historic significance of this announcement, this is a Chinese manufacturer building a factory in the U.S. to supply equipment to a power provider largely funded and managed by Chinese companies. China is opting not to leverage its own low domestic labor costs. Nevada wages may be low, but they aren't as low as the wages offered in China. This is an example of how management, technological ability, financial and marketing savvy have grown in China in recent years.
Suntech Power Holdings is building a solar assembly plant in China. Meanwhile, BYD and Coda plan to bring electric cars built with Chinese batteries and factories to the U.S. Coda's battery partner has a $450 million loan from a Chinese bank.
What does this mean? Like Japanese companies and South Korean companies before them, Chinese companies are graduating from serving as behind-the-scenes manufacturers and becoming global brand names in their own right -- and it is happening in energy first. In fact, there is a good chance your next employer will come from China.