Can red be green too — if it’s red China we’re talking about? Headlines such as “With the Olympics Looming, China Goes Green”, “China urges end to polluters’ tax breaks”, and “Greenpeace rates Apple least green, China’s Lenovo scores high” suggest a new momentum to remake China as environmentally friendly.
Let’s be clear here — green in China isn’t just some passing fad. And in some ways, being green is a lot more popular than you might think.
Case in point? Solar-powered water heaters. I remember seeing these handy green appliances at numbers of stores back in 2001, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were available even earlier than that. Today more than 30 million Chinese households own one, accounting for 80 percent of the entire world market!
The seventh-richest man in China today — Shi Zhengrong — built his wealth on none other than photovoltaic solar cells. His company, Suntech Power Holdings, is even trading on the New York Stock Exchange. While most of his sales are overseas, it’s only a matter of time before innovation will bring the price down to something more affordable to the Chinese public.
Meanwhile, environmental groups are making headways across the country. According to this article in the China Daily, over 4,000 environmental groups have sprung up around China since 1994.
The article also goes on to highlight one of the most important constituents for a greener China — students:
In Beijing, 1,600 students attend the Number Two Middle School, an institution widely regarded as one of the best secondary schools in China.
The school is revered for producing some of the country’s best and brightest, yielding students who receive top scores on China’s annual college entrance exams.
The students at Number Two stand out, however, not only because of their academic achievement, but because of their enlightened attitude toward the environment.
Over the last few years, especially since Beijing was awarded the 2008 Olympic Games, environmental awareness has gotten a new emphasis among those who will be the next generation of China’s educated leaders.
Manufacturers in China are thinking green too. I referred to Lenovo above. Add to them a number of smart and savvy green Chinese automakers, who understand that being green means profitability for the future:
One experimental clean-energy car runs on natural gas. Another uses ethanol distilled from corn. A third has a zero-emissions electric motor powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.
These alternative vehicles were created not by a global automaker but by China’s small-but-ambitious car companies, which displayed them Sunday alongside gasoline-powered sedans and sport utility vehicles at the start of the Shanghai Auto Show.
At a time when they are still trying to establish themselves in international markets, Chinese automakers are already investing in such avant-garde research in a bid to win a foothold in the next generation of technology.
“This is the tide of the industry. If you don’t go with the tide, the industry will pass you by,” said Qin Lihong, a vice president of China’s biggest domestic automaker, Chery Auto Co., in an interview ahead of the show’s opening.
It’s not just “the tide of the industry” — it’s the tide of China. A green tide. The market is there and growing…so don’t let it pass you by either.