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US Tells China Fairness Needed in Green Energy Industry

US Energy Secretary Steven Chu gestures while speaking to the media during a briefing at the US Embassy in Beijing, 17 Nov 2010

The top U.S. official on energy policy says China should allow American companies to qualify for subsidies Beijing offers for renewable energy projects. There are growing complaints that China violates world trade rules by subsidizing its green energy companies, such as solar panel and wind turbine manufacturers.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu says his government welcomes Chinese green energy companies because they help create American jobs.

But he says there must be a level playing field for U.S. companies in the booming Chinese green energy industry. China provides various subsidies to its green energy companies, and Washington wants those subsidies to be open to all companies working on environmentally sound energy sources.

"What we in the U.S. ask for and we think China will come along with, is that these subsidies are equal on a level playing field. So those are the principals we are going to go forward on," he said.

Chu says the U.S. recognizes subsidies are the direction both countries must go in to achieve the goal of lowering carbon emissions and reducing pollution and global warming.

He made the comments Wednesday in Beijing after meeting with Chinese energy officials.

The U.S. says China has erected trade barriers, such as requirements for domestic content, that effectively exclude U.S. companies from receiving Chinese government financial assistance. And some American companies say Beijing's subsidies mean they can not compete in their home market against imported Chinese green energy equipment.

China's Ministry of Commerce dismisses claims it is unfairly supporting its green-technology industry.

The U.S. Department of Commerce in September began investigating whether China's support for its domestic renewable energy companies breaks international trade rules.

Chu was in China to open the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center, where scientists from both countries will research and create green power technologies. It was created under an agreement last year.

Chu says the center will be one of the largest research collaborations between two countries in the world.