DAVOS, Switzerland--So far, wind turbines are not Sputnik. But one day they could be.
The global race to develop clean technology is not just about who can build the best solar parks or wind farms. It is also shaping up as a contest between Chinese-style capitalism and the more market-oriented approach fancied by the United States and Europe.
The question comes down to this: will China's highly capitalized command-and-control economy trump laissez-faire in a low-carbon shift that is widely portrayed as the next industrial revolution?
The failure in Copenhagen to agree to replace the Kyoto Protocol with a new global climate treaty when it expires in 2012 has thrown the focus on national measures. And by almost all accounts, the Chinese are coming on strong.
Beijing's top leaders have made clear their intention to have their nation dominate this new industry, up and down the value ladder. And in their quest for the prize, they are not burdened by concerns facing their Western counterparts--such as the impact of wind turbines on landscapes, higher energy prices for consumers, or investor returns.