Magazine February 7, 2011, Issue

China’s ‘Sputnik Moment’

A labourer shovels coal in a port in Rizhao, Shandong province, China, January 17, 2010. (Reuters)
A statist energy policy is no model for the U.S.

Does China’s government-funded push into so-called green energy constitute a “Sputnik moment” for the United States? That’s the term Pres. Barack Obama used in a December 6 speech in Winston-Salem, N.C., evoking events of more than 50 years ago when the Soviet Union launched the world’s first satellite and seemed, for a brief moment, to be winning the space race, leaving the United States behind as a military-industrial also-ran. There are two main problems with President Obama’s comparison of Sputnik to our contemporary energy competition with China: It completely misunderstands the Chinese energy industry, and it completely misunderstands the American

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