Increasing internal demand in China for goods needs more thoughtful analysis

A shift to more internal demand for China might not benefit the US in ways we think it will. One such area is the impact of increased demand for resources and energy. And another is where the jobs are.

China Puts Up More Money to Build Solar Capacity

The government-owned China Development Bank has just made its third massive loan to one of the country’s solar energy makers, bringing its total commitment about $17 billion. The combined size of the loans is large enough to allow China to double the global manufacturing capability for solar wafers and cells. The latest recipient of the government’s largess is Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd. (NYSE:YGE), which today announced that had received an aggregate line of credit from the China Development Bank worth about $5.3 billion. In April, Suntech Power Holdings (NYSE:STP) and Trina Solar Ltd. (NYSE:TSL) received loans of $7.3 billion and $4.4 billion, respectively.

The NYT points to energy use, efficiency, and China (Rdan…the emphasis is on global warming but needn’t be):

Already, in the last three years, China has shut down more than a thousand older coal-fired power plants that used technology of the sort still common in the United States. China has also surpassed the rest of the world as the biggest investor in wind turbines and other clean energy technology. And it has dictated tough new energy standards for lighting and gas mileage for cars.

But even as Beijing imposes the world’s most rigorous national energy campaign, the effort is being overwhelmed by the billionfold demands of Chinese consumers.

Aspiring to a more Western standard of living, in many cases with the government’s encouragement, China’s population, 1.3 billion strong, is clamoring for more and bigger cars, for electricity-dependent home appliances and for more creature comforts like air-conditioned shopping malls.

Chinese cars get 40 percent better gas mileage on average than American cars because they tend to be much smaller and have weaker engines. And China is drafting regulations that would require cars within each size category to improve their mileage by 18 percent over the next five years. But China’s auto market soared 48 percent in 2009, surpassing the American market for the first time, and car sales are rising almost as rapidly again this year.

An older generation of low-wage migrant workers accepted hot dormitories and factories with barely a fan to keep them cool, one of many reasons Chinese emissions per person are still a third of American emissions per person. Besides higher pay, young Chinese are now demanding their own 100-square-foot studio apartments, with air-conditioning at home and in factories. Indeed, one of the demands by workers who went on strike in May at a Honda transmission factory in Foshan was that the air-conditioning thermostats be set lower. [Rdan…the mandate is 79 degrees F.]