SHANGHAI, May 19 -- US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and two-dozen American businesses are visiting China, aiming to boost clean energy technology sales as one industry leader announced a fresh contract to supply components for wind turbines.
The visit, one of several by US Cabinet officials, comes ahead of annual top-level talks called the Strategic Economic Dialogue, a venue for thrashing out longstanding grievances on trade, currency and other policy issues.
Locke, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk will attend those talks, which begin Monday in Beijing. They come as the two countries are mending ties after a bout of friction over various issues, including US arms sales to Taiwan.
The Commerce Department's trade mission intends to help deliver on President Barack Obama's pledge to double US exports over the next five years and create 2 million jobs.
"Promoting American exports, particularly here in Asia, will create more jobs in America while improving the lives of people around the world and introducing new products and services to local communities," Locke said before leaving Hong Kong for Shanghai.
In Hong Kong, the US and local governments signed an agreement on promoting American wines. In the Chinese mainland, the trade delegation will be seeking wider opportunities for US technologies related to clean energy, energy efficiency, and electric energy storage, transmission and distribution in Asia.
On Tuesday, American Superconductor Corp announced a new electrical components order from Sinovel Wind, China's largest wind turbine maker. Beijing-based Sinovel, ranked the world's third-largest wind turbine maker worldwide, has so far ordered US$1 billion from AMSC.
China's potential market for renewable energy is huge: Total investment by the government and private sector last year was $34.6 billion, nearly double US spending of $18.6 billion, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.
But US and European companies complain they are being squeezed out of the market as Beijing strives to build up its own suppliers of wind, solar and other equipment.
So far, Washington and Beijing have avoided a formal dispute over clean energy and have emphasized cooperation in research. But they are embroiled in plenty of other disputes, over currency policy, trade in various goods and Chinese policies favoring local companies at the expense of foreign competitors.