BEIJING, May 27 (Reuters) – The full impact of a catastrophic oil well blow-out off the Louisiana coast is unclear but it could "focus attention" on cleaner forms of energy, U.S. Assistant Energy Secretary David Sandalow said on Thursday.
The Deepwater Horizon well, owned and operated by energy giant BP <BP.L>, is believed to be leaking at least 5,000 barrels of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico, and Sandalow said the worst oil spill in U.S. history would have to be taken into account in any new energy law.
"It will certainly be a top item of discussion on Capitol Hill. Any energy legislation in the next couple of months will be affected by what’s going on here but it is too early to predict exactly how," he said in an interview for the Reuters Global Energy Summit in Beijing.
"There has been a lot of concern about BP’s performance, and the results that we see are tragic."
The Obama administration has been trying to push through an ambitious energy bill aimed at easing the country’s dependence on fossil fuels and establishing a nationwide greenhouse emissions market. But Sandalow said it was too early to say whether the disaster will affect the proposed law.
"I don’t want to speculate on legislative trajectories — but I think there is no question (the blow-out) will focus the attention of the American people on energy and our patterns of energy usage."
CHINA’S ROLE IN CLEAN ENERGY
The United States’ failure to pass the clean energy bill last year has been identified as one of the reasons why the international community failed to secure a binding global pact to combat climate change at a summit in Copenhagen in December.
"There is no question that the world looks to the United States for leadership on many issues, including the battle against global warming," Sandalow said.
"Action by China is crucially important as well. The world cannot solve the global warming problem without China taking action to move towards a clean energy future."
Sandalow was in Beijing as part of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, and the world’s two biggest greenhouse gas emitters have put clean energy technology on the top of their agendas.
Both sides agreed a deal to work together on ensuring the safety of the AP1000 nuclear reactor, designed by U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric, the first of which will finally be built in China in 2013.
With a long moratorium on new reactor projects in the United States, Westinghouse has looked to China as a shop window for its AP1000 designs.
Sandalow insisted Washington was not just waiting for the AP1000 to be tested in China, but was committed to restarting its stalled domestic nuclear programme as soon as possible.
He said fears that the United States was being left behind by China on clean energy were misplaced.
"It is good for the whole world that both are doing this. I don’t know that there is a lot of value in saying who is ahead in which technology but I think it is very important that both our countries continue to invest very heavily."
Environmental groups have expressed concern that the global fight against climate change and fossil fuel dependence was being stymied by trade issues, particularly between the United States and China. But Sandalow said progress had been made on easing frictions this week, and stressed that cooperation was just as important as competition.
"The transition to clean energy is not a zero sum game — that’s been the premise of a great amount of our activity over the past year," he said.
"Working together, we can accomplish more than acting alone. We have seen a lot of progress in the last year but this is something that requires constant attention." (Editing by Ramthan Hussain)
BEIJING (Reuters) – The United States is concerned that China’s revised proposals to promote innovation will still discriminate against American firms, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said on Tuesday.
China’s officials tried to reassure their U.S. counterparts on Monday that the latest Chinese draft on “indigenous innovation” policies had resolved U.S. concerns on intellectual property protection.
BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s “indigenous innovation” regulations are one of the top concerns for U.S. officials meeting their Chinese counterparts in Beijing on Monday and Tuesday for the Strategic and Economic Dialogue.
WHAT IS “INDIGENOUS INNOVATION?”
The Chinese government has long pushed its companies to move higher on the value chain and develop their own technology and brands, rather than simply manufacturing cheaply on behalf of foreigners.
BEIJING (Reuters) – U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke aired concerns in Beijing over indigenous innovation policies and other barriers to market access, but was pressed on U.S. restrictions on exports of high-technology goods to China.
Foreign firms in China have been lobbying for months against draft indigenous innovation policies, which would encourage government bodies to buy goods and services developed in China.
BEIJING (Reuters) – Tibetan choreographer Sang Jijia took seven years to finish an idea that came to him while painting one day — the idea that other people’s dark side, the part that isn’t known, that makes them whole.
Three days before “Standing Before Darkness” premiered this month in Beijing, he was finally satisfied with his exploration of that spiritual shading through dance.
BEIJING (Reuters) – Thailand’s finance minister gave a slightly improved outlook for Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy on Wednesday, saying a swift end to the Thai political crisis will be instrumental in ensuring growth stays on track.
Anti-government protesters, called the “red shirts”, have massed in the Thai capital Bangkok over the past two months, crippling the government and worrying foreign investors.
BEIJING (Reuters) – Two human rights lawyers who represented defendants in sensitive cases, including members of the banned Falun Gong sect, have been permanently disbarred, according to the Beijing bureau of justice.
Tang Jitian, 42, and Liu Wei, 33, had their license to practice revoked after being accused by the Beijing municipal bureau of justice of “disrupting order in court and interfering with proper litigation procedure,” according to a notice posted on the bureau’s website.
BEIJING (Reuters) – Pakistan and China have “broken the back” of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which China accuses of orchestrating attacks in its restive Xinjiang region, Pakistan’s Interior Minister said in Beijing on Friday.
An alleged leader of the group, about which little is known, has been killed, Rehman Malik said at the end of a visit to discuss security cooperation between the two countries.
BEIJING (Reuters) – European talks with Chinese leaders over Iran have moved toward how to target sanctions rather than whether they should be applied at all, the European Union said on Friday.
EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said she told Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao sanctions were needed to keep pressure on Iran over its nuclear activities and that she felt China had accepted that position.
BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese premier Wen Jiabao reiterated reassurances to foreign companies that they will not be discriminated against in the Chinese market, while calling on European leaders to recognise China as a market economy.
Wen’s comments after meeting with European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso on Thursday come a few days before China is due to implement sweeping new regulations on standards, that foreign technology firms and manufacturers say will raise the costs and risks of doing business in the country.