China’s Mercantilism and New Global Economic Order

32Modern communication technology has allowed China to achieve a centralized bureaucracy that has a smaller chance of becoming overextended and too top heavy. The danger, of parts of central government melting into regional structures with rebellious consequences, is diminishing every year. The risk is not totally gone however if rapid economic growth bumps into serious stagnation and even GDP reversal. As of today, China has the creaky uneven centralization of 18th century France and is gleefully engaged in large scale mercantilist practices.

Chinese society is not yet fully urbanized and consolidated. Beijing cannot yet engage in cutting edge mercantilist practices as done by Japan and Singapore. Chinese political center only recently overcame last remnants of feudalism, warlordism, and peripheral regional integration. Having dealt with that, China is pursuing the same economic path that allowed Kaiser’s Germany to rapidly grow by taking advantage of British post-mercantilist free trade period. It is very historically appropriate. There is no need for Beijing to emulate Spanish, British, or French mercantilist experiences.

For a nation of 5 year plans, it makes sense to try to skip developmental steps and leap from macroeconomics of Kaiser’s Germany to those of Japan. As of today, China has done rapid neomercantilist development by the book:

1) Government imposed positive trade balance through protectionism and currency control (yuan pegged to the dollar)

2) Self sufficiency in agriculture and manufacturing of basic to advanced goods

3) Acquisition of large amounts of money and gold (around a trillion dollars worth as of 2009). Controls to prevent wealth from flowing out of the country through protectionist restrictions on imports

4) Large scale mining and infrastructural projects to increase use of domestic resources and terrain. Hamilton and Quinsy Adams would be proud of what Beijing’s coastal elite have achieved in the last 20 years. China has also secured 60% of Africa’s resource exports and are structurally integrating Central Asia and Siberian Russia into their resource feeding network.

5) Keeping the overall population’s wages low to increase country’s overall manufacturing exports. That is easily accomplished by underdevelopment of Western provinces like Tibet. One child policy is more imposed on the wealthier Mandarin ruling coalition than the periphery ethnic groups. Uneven implementation of one child policy keeps periphery ethnic groups more fertile and poorer. Coastal urban ruling peoples spend more energies on advanced wealth generating employment rather than saving to augment multiple children.

6) Keeping of imports limited to natural resources and large scale buy outs of foreign expert talent in anything from engineering, electronics, economics, and hard sciences

Current opinion and international action has just been reactive so far. Westerners are mainly focused on China’s attempts to prevent rapid devaluing of the bought dollars (before all of them are eventually used on natural resources anyway) through creation of an international reserve currency . Some look on how the international recession, can be used by China, to move from less advanced manufacturing to price competing with Germans and Japanese when it comes to advanced electronics and electric cars. Chinese confidence in constructively criticizing the existing international economic system is often noted.

Very little attention has been paid to the implications of the world being pulled into a mercantilist arrangement. China is becoming more predictable and thus out-maneuverable. Originally, Britain became economically successful because it added free trade theory onto mercantilist practice earlier than Spain or France. It stayed one step ahead of the competition. However, the new economic hybrid has created oligarchal capitalist interests who then used liberal theory to reduce state’s involvement in the economy. Wealthy exporting interests (who controlled the house of commons and people’s opinion through printed media) used appeals to individual freedom to dismantle the mercantilist/free trade hybrid that made Britain powerful and wealthy to begin with. Britain coasted along but economically declined as hybrid societies were able to build up new waves of industrial assets through neomercantilist practices (Germany/ United States). As Britain declined in industrial might, it focused on its core strength of money management and that lead to the torch being passed down to Wall Street in the 20th century. The great competing banking hubs of Europe (Paris, Berlin, Moscow) were looted in the wars/revolutions. We now see what happens when banking and finance is the core strength and emphasis of the economy.

China is now in the process of moving to the final stage of manufacturing asset concentration through focus on development of advanced products like cars and computers. Rapid economic assimilation of Taiwan and Hong Kong will quickly aid in that process. Western investment in Taiwan created a base for high technology and competitive know how. Many Taiwanese oligarchs have already basically integrated their companies with mainland ones. Ideologically, Taiwan’s Kuomintang political center, can now smoothly cooperate with Chinese authorities. People forget how important socialism was in Chiang Kai Chek’s original nationalist ideology.

Very soon, China will begin manufacture of high technology goods to compete with Germany and Japan for markets in Russia, Europe, and North America (as well as lower end cheap electric cars sold to developing nations). They will be forced to utilize existing free trade international system (perhaps stabilized by IMF’s Special Drawing Rights currency basket) to push these products abroad.

How would Chinese like to see the world once their products flow onto middle class Western markets? They would like to see no protectionism from Europe, Russia, Japan, or North America. They would like to see rule of law and capitalist adherence from everybody in the world. They’d be fine with North America and Europe reduced to South American-esque resource providers and vacation destinations. We can see that if China takes on Japanese level importance in high technology exports, they’ll be able to then finally consolidate nationally and relax the amount of force needed to keep social stability.

In a few decades, the communist leadership in Beijing will then be able to claim that not only did they bring the nation out of poverty but they:

1) beat Westerners at their own game like Japan did (but without a period of war over resources)

2) created real feeling of nationalism, inter-ethnic peace, and modern nation state like Chiang Kai Chek wanted

3) avoided Soviet Union’s mistakes when undergoing Perestroika while properly utilizing communist fruits of mass literacy and emphasis on science/engineering

4) took the torch from United States as the Global role model when it comes to free trade, peaceful co-existence, lack of harmful interference in other societies’ business, isolationism, respect for borders of small states, and business cooperation

5) built more for the developing world than the financially oriented English speakers by swapping resources for real engineering construction projects

6) helped create a stabilizing one world currency for more even international development

Such claims will allow Communist party to win election after election for a number of decades even if they then allow political pluralism. Many Asian states continued to have one party rule for decades even after democratizing. Cultural collectivism and emphasis on agreement allows power elites to work smoothly together. Taking into account Britain’s experience, China can easily continue to pragmatically evolve, build a financial center through Hong Kong, bring new resources (such as Helium 3 from space exploration), and guide humanity by being its center of progress.

History has shown that leading global elites will not allow such unimpeded ascendancy. Cutting off resources and containment is too blatantly hostile. Japan and Imperial Germany have demonstrated that. Advanced hybrid of mercantilism and free trade (from a society strong enough economically and technologically) will be the only way to counterbalance Chinese ascendancy. Only European Union with English and Russian speaking allies has what it takes to effectively compete and prevent formation of a long term hegemon that is culturally and psychologically uncomfortable for Westerners.

Earlier in the article, it was mentioned how Chinese bureaucracy, has a small chance of being destabilized again. There is precedent for this happening at numerous times in China’s history with horrible civil wars and revolts from poorer less developed periphery. China’s gini index, that shows country’s income inequality between the rich and the poor, shows that China is even more economically unequal than United States. Today, Beijing’s authoritarian rule keeps the lid on trouble from elites from either the oligarch coastal factions, rural/regional factions, and urban West emulating liberals.

European Union’s job, to deal with the near future, involves:

1) Being proactive rather than reactive to Chinese, American, or Russian moves

2) Acquiring valuable allies to augment influence. That means working first with Russia to kick American/British influence out of central Europe and then with England to push American influence out of NATO. NATO can then be ended and America approached as an equal power to work with.

3) Being pragmatic and not looking at human rights when acquiring resources from other nations. Europe still has time to lock onto substantial amounts of resource exports from the third world, especially Africa. It can join Russia in developing the Arctic energy reserves and help Russia outbid Chinese resource extraction/exploration companies in Central Asia.

4) Consolidate EU structures, such as the European Parliament, so more coherent action can be undertaken with more popular trans European legitimacy.

5) Use advanced collective protectionist methods to keep an edge in high technology products to stay a step ahead of China. Contribute even more constructively to global currency formation through IMF where Westerners still dominate.

6) Work with United States and England to manage the geopolitical, social, and economic decline of United States peacefully and productively. Invite young American professionals to European Union to displace social pressures from relying on less assimilative Muslim immigrants. Become the stable adult co-equal mediator between Russia and United States so the two former superpowers can productively contribute and provide nuclear protection. Open borders to young educated Westerners from around the world to counterbalance aging of Europe.

7) Develop strong ties to regional powers like Japan and India to counterbalance Chinese cultural influence. To do that, rapidly expand economic cooperation with them in the sphere of building climate change infrastructure, energy, military, and space

8) Comprehensively educate the public on climate change and loss of technological edge to China in non-confrontational terms. Take the lead in recognizing petty-infighting (like Poland’s mistrust of Russian cooperation in Europe) and offer tangible economic/developmental incentives to major actors to overcome them.

Brussels has enough time to still effectively consolidate before China does. It will require the same long term vision, developmental eye, and good historical sense as the one possessed by their Chinese politburo counterparts. Europe is more economically egalitarian than China. It has more power elites and cutting edge professionals. It must find a way to be protected by Russo-American nuclear umbrella (without being controlled by them) so not too much money is spent on integrated European defense. Together, Western peoples of the world got close to a billion people and have as much of a shot as Chinese (less than half the Chinese speak the ruling dialect of Mandarin). Western civilization has the qualitative expertise to provide solid competition that will benefit all of humanity.

Technology Industry Risk in the BRIC

31Without a doubt the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) – four of the world’s largest emerging economies, have massive economic and investment potential, especially within the technology industry. According to Euromonitor International if the BRIC countries are able to maintain their current growth rate, the combined economies of these four global powerhouses could be worth more in US dollar terms than the G6 (Germany, France, Italy, Japan, UK and the US) by 2041. Both the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Personal Disposable Income (PDI) have developed exponentially among the BRIC nations over the last decade.

This growth has fueled numerous Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) across each country making Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) a formidable business venture for any major corporations. PPP deals can often be complex, financially demanding and extremely time consuming with projects lasting several years. However, under the right economic conditions and proper business strategy, they can offer significant benefits to the private business sector, the consumer and national governments. Each country may pose a different risk and the success of these projects would largely depend on the country’s ability to handle such risks and minimize interruptions to the projects. Our paper examinees the comparative risk, opportunity, overall economic climate, comparative industry market potential and structure within each BRIC countries and ultimately making a recommendation on which country to invest within the technology sector.

Brazil

According to data compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Brazil is currently at a score of a “BBB” in its overall country risk assessment. This is otherwise known as an “investment grade status. Based on this assessment, Brazil is considered to be a low-moderate risk country to invest in depending on agency rating. Brazil is abundant in natural resources like quartz, diamonds, chromium, iron ore, phosphates, petroleum, mica, graphite, titanium, copper, gold, oil, bauxite, zinc, tin, and mercury. According to Bloomberg Media “Its natural riches have since propelled this nation of 200 million people to the top tiers of global markets. Brazil’s economy has ascended the ranks of the world’s largest, from 16th in 1980 to 6th today.” Brazil’s large government debt and economic deficits in the 1990’s facilitated private investment in various industries. The Brazilian Privatization Program from 1990-2002 led to privatization of 33 companies, an estimate 105 Billion in national revenue and increment in the investment opportunities, particularly within the technology driven telecommunications industries which represented 31% of this movement.

Reports regarding Brazil’s economic future have varied widely. Despite unstable performance results across Brazil’s five regions reported this year, the economic outlook for Brazil is fairly positive. The Wall Street Journal recently reported Standard & Poor’s downward revision in Brazil’s outlook to “negative” from “stable. ” According to the Economist Intelligence Unit “long-term growth forecast anticipates more rapid average annual GDP growth over the next 19 years (3.8%) than over the past 25 (2.8%). Improvements in infrastructure and education, trade expansion, a broader presence of multinational business, a reduction in the debt-service burden and the development of Brazil’s huge oil reserves will mitigate slower labor force growth and help to sustain labor productivity growth at 2.7%.”

The current political focus In Brazil is rapidly shifting to next year’s general election. President, Dilma Rousseff (of the leftist Partido dos Trabalhadores) who became the first female president in the nation’s history in 2010, announced her bid for another four-year term this past February. President Rousseff remains extremely popular despite corruption scandals, weak economic growth and a resurgence of inflation, particularly due to the fact that unemployment remained low at 5.8% when compared to historical trends. With respect to political risk Brazil is moderately stable in comparison to other BRIC nations. “Campaigning for the October 2014 elections in Brazil has already begun, President Dilma Rousseff’s popularity has helped reduce the scope for sensitive reforms and contaminating the policy environment”, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.6 Furthermore, President Rousseff was ranked by Forbes Magazine as the #2 most powerful woman in the world. Many International investors are attracted to Brazil because of its stable political and economic environment; however they do face very high levels of bureaucracy, taxes, crime and corruption that typically are far greater than in their home markets.

Brazil’s economy is slowly recuperating from the 2011-12 downturns, but Brazil’s potential growth rate is much lower than in 2004-10, when it grew by 4.5% annually. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit “The financial services sector will grow above the overall rate, but it will lose some dynamism as credit growth slows. Credit has more than doubled since 2003 in GDP terms, to 53% as of February 2013.”

“With respect to financial risk, the Brazilian financial system is exposed to the effects of volatile international markets, especially for commodities and capital. Over the past decade, Brazil’s financial sectors assets have doubled particularly due to expansion of the securities and derivatives markets, and heavy investments from home and abroad.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit “With an estimated population of 195m and GDP of US$2.3trn in 2012, Brazil has the largest financial services market in Latin America. However, income and wealth remain highly concentrated. A continued trend towards formalization of businesses and the labor force will support financial deepening. Rising incomes will lift demand for financial services, but Brazil’s labor-market dynamics are becoming less favorable than in the previous decade.”

Some economists have suggested that Brazil may become a victim of its own success. The gross public debt ratio remains high forcing the government’s borrowing requirement to also stay high. According to Dimitri Demekas assistant director in the IMF’s Monetary and Capital Markets department “Rapid credit expansion in recent years has supported domestic economic growth and broader financial inclusion, but could also create vulnerabilities.” Nevertheless a series of additional infrastructure improvements, it’s growing population, abundant natural resources and anticipated investments from the forthcoming 2014 world Cup and 2016 Olympics promise to keep Brazil at the top of global financial strategies for the years to come.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, using the average industry risk rating for the technology sector in 2013, Brazil scores a 43.5. In order to examine the risk vs. return, we pair this with the Economic Intelligence Units business environment score. Given on a scale of 1-10, we multiply this by 10 for purposes of comparison throughout this paper; we get 66.9 for Brazil, representing an excellent opportunity within the technology sector.

Russia

According to data compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Russia currently is scores a “C” value, (54 points) in its overall risk assessment. Based on this assessment, Russia is considered to be a moderately risky country to invest in. Some of those risks include the “opaque and corrupt administration, over-reliance on commodities production and the ill-functioning judiciary.”

With respect to political risk, Russia scored a “C” value (55 points) according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. President Vladimir Putin has seen various protests during his many terms, however; the country is not booming as it was in the decades immediately following the Cold War. It is evident that the government is intervening more in the economy now, causing more of a further disconnect for the working middle class. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, “there are signs that disillusionment is spreading among ordinary Russians”. With the country potentially lacking political stability, investors and other countries will not want to continue to do business with Russia.

With respect to financial risk, Russia scored a value of “C” (58 points), according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. Russia lacks heavy involvement from the government in the banking sector; therefore, it has been difficult to achieve any sort of reform for the baking industry. Furthermore, there is uncertainty in the position of the banking sector and its regulation and supervision by the government. When investors and business partners cannot trust the country’s central bank, it creates many issues for the country. Access to external financial and a weakened ruble, certainly do not attract companies to conduct business in Russia.

Just like the rest of the world, Russia suffered from the economic crisis that had a ripple effect on the entire global marketplace. GDP decreased by 7.8% during 2009, which affected the country in many ways. Russia saw a decline in the external demand for various commodities. While the economy and GDP fluctuated during the years following, Russia was still not seen as a favorable country to invest in partly because of the large uncertainty towards the political sector as well as the lack of confidence in the government nor financial stability.

Russia scored a 52.475 average risk on the Technology sector while the country scored a 58.6 on business environment. This combination of higher risk and lower opportunity makes Russia the least favorable country of the BRIC for technology investment based on the current economic and risk factors.

India

The Economist Business Intelligence unit “estimates that real GDP growth (on an expenditure basis) slowed to 3.4% in fiscal year 2012/13.” The Business Intelligence unit believes that India’s economy has bottomed out. The country is currently at a low point in their economic cycle with the slowest growth in ten years having taken place in the 12 months preceding March 2013. This however is good news for future investments in the country as recent economic reforms, lower interest rates and wholesale price inflation are expected to cause a real GDP growth of 6.2% in fiscal year ending 2014.

From this point on through 2030, India is predicted to be a hot bed for economic growth, making this an excellent target for global investment. India is forecasted to grow at an average of 6.4% from 2012-2030, making the country the fastest growing large economy in the world during this time. However with this growth, India will face some new challenges that could be a cause for concern.India is depending more on external investments as it continues to open its economy. This could be a risk factor for the country as it has previously been a closed economy and has enjoyed the protections from the economic downturn of 2008-2009 because of this. With the new global investments, this protection from outside influences will no longer be as strong. There is also some concern that foreign investments have recently slowed after a strong 2012 due to investors waiting to see how political uncertainty plays out.

India benefits from a relatively healthy debt to GDP ratio with the sovereign risk of the country falling between 45 and 48 for the 12 months preceding June 2013. The country has low non-performing loan (NPL) ratio’s and enjoys a Banking Sector risk of 49-51 during this same time. Though if the country adhered to international criteria for defining NPL’s, this number would be higher. The currency is trending upward from 44-47 in the last 12 months due to economic reforms following India’s fiscal and trade deficits as well as high inflation.

In addition to India’s new need for capital infusion, the country has suffered political scandals revolving around corruption in the last three years. The country has also lost several key western allies as speculation rises that Congress will call elections early before their term ends in 2014.1 This political risk makes investment in the short term unadvisable until the political fallout surrounding the election can be determined.

Though India as a country has a lower risk ranking and an excellent forecast for economic growth, the technology sector will have to navigate some new terrain in order to continue growth. India’s Technology sector risk averages 52.6, likely due to the saturation of India’s IT services within the US. As India’s service providers look for ways to add value and take advantage of cloud computing technology offerings, they must also look for customers outside of the US, which is not an easy task, especially considering that 9% of the 55 Asian companies in the list of the top 500 Global firms utilize outsourcing as a strategy. When weighted against the countries adjusted business environment rating of 60.4, India becomes the third rank in BRIC investment targets.

China

China’s economy is the second largest and an important source of revenue for most multinational firms. China’s growth has held up better than Brazil and India and the economy’s expansion is expected to be 7.8% in 2014. Tightening labor markets and supportive government policy are expected to sustain rapid income growth in the next two years.

Although major political reforms are not expected, significant fiscal changes may be unveiled in late 2013 and in the meantime, authorities have tightened monetary policy. While economic growth rates are trending downward, real GDP growth in 2013 is still expected to be 8.5%.

The degree of government interference in the economy remains a worrying factor although the private sector is increasingly important. China’s domestic demand of goods is expected to grow faster than its export markets. Although government has lowered man trade barriers in order to encourage more imports, still access to some sectors remains difficult.

China’s leaders want continuing sustainable economic growth as well as enduring political control. The past emphasis on economic development is now being altered in favor of social priorities. Another challenge facing the government is to rebalance the economy, which is dependent on high levels of investment spending. Income growth will gradually boost the contribution of domestic consumption to economic expansion, but difficult reforms (particularly in the financial sector) will be required if household spending is to be fully unleashed.

China’s business environment will become more favorable in the future, with its scores for most categories in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s business environment rankings model improving. The biggest improvements are in categories that will benefit from the government’s efforts to reform the financial sector and open the capital account but a number of other categories continue to score poorly by global and regional standards. Risks to China’s political stability, continue to drag down the political environment score. The only category for which the country’s score worsens is macroeconomic conditions. Its economy’s massive size and rapid growth means that China boasts one of world’s highest scores for market opportunities.

Although they are going through economic and social changes that threaten political stability, their security risk is fairly low and the overall risk of doing business in China is moderate to high. Popular discontent has been on a rise due to the rising costs of living, income disparity, urban unemployment, land seizures and corruption. Major reforms to address these issues look unlikely as the Chinese Communist Party will remain in power for the foreseeable future. They lack national standards and regulatory consistency is weak, enforcement is poor and political interference makes the legal and regulatory risks high. For this reason, foreign-invested enterprises avoid taking disputes to domestic courts if they can go to international arbitration instead.

Progress on the financial sector reform has begun to accelerate, China’s banking and capital markets are immature but foreign-invested enterprises have generally good access to loans.

Infrastructure is improving fast and reaching advanced standards in some parts of the country. Mobile telecommunications are widespread. Internet penetration is high for a developing nation. Air transport networks are well developed and the logistics industry is growing rapidly.

China has an excellent outlook when comparing risk and opportunities. By weighing average technology industry risk of 44.9 against the adjusted business environment rating of 64.4, China becomes an excellent option as shown on the bubble chart found by following the link at the end of this article. With large disposable incomes, China also has massive growth potential.

Conclusion

Based on the research relating to the economic opportunity in the BRIC countries as well as the political and economic risk of entering each country, Brazil shows the strongest potential currently for firms looking to invest in the technology industry. Though there is excellent growth projected in India, 6.2% average through 2030, the technology sector is saturated. U.S. companies are bringing Information outsourcing services back with on shoring, while Asian companies predominantly keep their information services in house. This combined with the near term political uncertainty makes India a higher risk investment.

There are still opportunities in India no doubt; however this was not the most opportune BRIC country to target.Russia was the least favorable country based on business opportunity and risk factors; therefore we can also eliminate investment in Russia. China meanwhile has excellent opportunity and risk ratings as well as a large and growing economy. China does not, however, have excellent systems in place to protect patents. In fact, China has the worst policies and enforcement of any of the BRIC counties as it pertains to technology, making any investment in technology a difficult decision.

Though China has a large economy and favorable economic and risk indicators, based on China’s higher comparable risk to that of Brazil’s and the lower business environment rating as compared Brazil, there is a higher likelihood of success investing in Brazil in 2013. Brazil maintains the highest measure of business opportunity as weighed against risk of any of the BRIC countries as illustrated in the bubble chart found by following the Bubble Chart link at the end of this article. The growth projected in Brazil, low risk in comparison to other BRIC countries and the stabilizing political environment, we feel confident in recommending an investment in Brazil’s growing technology industry. There will be bureaucratic processes to navigate, however the potential for excellent growth in technology and with minimal risk related in comparison to other BRIC countries make this an excellent investment target.

Technology Partnerships Boost Nascent Wind Power Industry

30By working with local universities and overseas component suppliers, manufacturers aim to produce more affordable turbines that are 15 to 20 percent more efficient in generating electricity.

The wind power industry in China is blowing up a storm.

From just six wind turbine manufacturers in 2004, the China Wind Power Association estimates the country is now home to more than 70 companies. This represents at least 17 times growth in just six years.

Output is multiplying swiftly as well. Statistics from China Wind Power Material Equipment Network show 124 percent year-on-year growth in 2009 production to 10,129 wind turbines generating a total of 13,803.2MW.

This, in turn, is promoting development in the auxiliary industries such as blades, converters, pitch control systems and inverters.

To make a mark in the export sector, China’s wind turbine manufacturers are now investing in technology, certification and aftersales service upgrades. The majority of companies only started catering to overseas markets during the past two or three years. In 2009, only four suppliers shipped out wind turbines internationally. These are Sinovel, Goldwind, Shanghai Electric and Changzhou New United. Sinovel exported 10 units to India. Goldwind sent three wind turbines to the US, while Shanghai Electric shipped two to Thailand. Changzhou New United manufactured one each for Thailand and the US.

At present, most locally made wind turbines cannot handle speeds that are too slow or too fast. The Chinese Wind Energy Association said a 1.5MW generator typically requires wind speed of at least 3 meters per second to start and 12.5 meters per second to generate electricity. But at 25 meters per second, the turbines need to stop working because the electricity generated would be too much for the transformers to handle.

Because of this limitation, suppliers focusing on large-capacity wind turbines are working with local universities in developing new technologies that can help improve stability and performance. The Shandong Changxing Group is cooperating with the Shaanxi University of Science and Technology to produce high-speed synchronous generators with a brushless excitation system. Unlike the traditionally incorporated doubly-fed asynchronous generators and permanent magnet direct-drive systems, the newer technology can convert electricity even in extreme wind conditions. Shandong Changxing is said to be the first in China to use such advanced systems, which can generate 15 to 20 percent more electricity than wind turbines adopting other technologies.

New United Group Co. Ltd works not only with the Shenyang Industrial University to develop 1.5MV wind turbines, but also with Germany’s Euros, UK’s GH and France’s Alstom to produce key components such as blades, controllers and converters. Using information shared from this technology partnership, the company initiates another round of R&D to develop parts in-house.

Some component suppliers, on the other hand, were set up by technology institutes themselves. Beijing Corona Science & Technology Co. Ltd was set up by the Chinese Academy of Science’s Institute of Electrical Engineering. With the institute’s focus on high-tech R&D, Beijing Corona is able to offer converters, pitch control systems and inverters for both wind and solar-powered products.

Wind turbines made more affordable

Advancements in technology coupled with China’s relatively low labor costs are pushing down prices of wind turbines. Guangzhou Hongying Energy Co. Ltd, which exports kW-rated capacity wind turbines to North America, said small China-made units are 100 to 200 percent less expensive than overseas variants, while larger models are priced 20 percent lower.

From about 6 million yuan ($885,000) per megawatt at the start of 2009, quotes fell to below 5 million yuan ($737,000) in H1 2010. Global prices are falling, but not fast enough to meet China’s low rates. From a high of 1.22 million euros ($1.6 million) per megawatt in 2009, prices are projected to fall to about 1.04 million euros ($1.4 million) by 2011.

The swift decline in quotes for China-made wind turbines is attributed in part to the way some small manufacturers offer really low prices, often at the expense of quality.

But larger, more research-oriented companies are less inclined to reduce quotes to finalize a transaction. Among these is Shandong Changxing, which believes engaging in price competition at such an early stage is not a move in the right direction.

Other improvements

Apart from investing in technology, companies such as New United are bringing in professional testing equipment to ensure the quality of its turbines. The company now has blade, 3MW land drag and 3.8MW land grid-connection testing platforms in addition to an EMC laboratory.

Apart from these, New United carries out various tests on turbine performance under different weather conditions, including low temperatures and high air salinity. The units are subjected to a shipping simulation assessment to evaluate how well the sealed film packaging holds up against sea travel. Burn-in tests are carried out as well.

Likewise, Shandong Changxing carries out land inspection to check resistance to moisture and corrosion, and evaluate suitability for sea and land use.

By improving the technology, manufacturers also aim to speed up turnaround in acquiring export certification such as being able to carry the CE mark or be UL-listed. Since the industry is still in its nascent stage, certification is usually per component and not for the entire turbine. Depending on the part and type of turbine, the process can take three to more than five months.

The lengthy turnaround sometimes causes problems in meeting delivery schedules. Companies would often have to negotiate lead times with buyers. In fact, a few manufacturers said they are unable to ship out some of the orders placed last year because the export certification is still not ready.

Presently, China-made wind turbines are exported to the US, the EU and Southeast Asia.

Aftersales service is being enhanced as well. Apart from sending engineers to guide buyers during on-site installations, suppliers are providing bilingual technical blueprints with metric and imperial measurements, and operating and maintenance manuals.

This article was written by managing editor Aimee Ocampo originally for Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.

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