When China's ruling Communist Party tells the energy industry in the world's largest controlled economy to "go green," the world can cheer. At last the largest emitter of heat-trapping gases is starting to make a contribution toward curbs on global warming - short of actually setting official limits on carbon emissions.
But the world should not cheer China as it tries to protect its domestic green-tech industries from foreign competition.
Foreign makers of solar panels and wind turbines are now often excluded from contracts for government projects in renewable energies. A recent "buy Chinese" policy has pushed out many foreign makers of wind turbines, for instance, in favor of local manufacturers.
In many other ways, China is putting up trade barriers in an attempt to create export giants in these new technologies. The strategy is modeled on Japan's success after World War II in keeping foreign competitors out of the domestic car and electronic markets while building up export behemoths.
But with clean energy, China has a big role to play in solving a critical global problem. Such technologies should be treated differently from other industries.
Yes, the renewable-energy industry will likely be the next big jobs producer as the world tackles climate change. …