Bill Gates Joins Top U.S. CEOs Calling For China Collaboration, Clear Domestic Energy Policy

Bill Gates, the world-famous billionaire founder of Microsoft who has more recently become a supporter of clean energy, has added his voice to the growing chorus of top American CEOs calling for the U.S. to maintain its lead in innovation.

“A lot of figures that are thrown about China are sort of these bogeyman, ‘We should feel bad’-type things,” said Gates, speaking at a meeting about climate change in Seattle on May 10. “But China is very important. China can be a part of the solution here.” While China’s lower manufacturing costs and larger, rapidly expanding energy market give it some advantages, the U.S. still leads in innovation. “The innovation will still have to count on wherever the top universities are,” he said. “The United States has a completely gigantic share of that, so we need the innovators here. China needs to be a part of the solution, but we can’t sit back.” (Read a more complete account of Gates’ speech in the New York Times, via Climatewire

Other heads of American corporations have expressed similar views. In a May 2011 piece in the Harvard Business Review, Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy, expressed enthusiasm for his company’s “unique collaborations” with Chinese energy companies, and expressed the view that these will help “bring us to a low carbon future.” Earlier this year, at a clean energy forum surrounding President Hu Jintao’s State visit to Washington in January 2011, Rogers once again emphasized that cooperation would lower costs for both countries.

Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric, has also repeatedly called on the U.S. to shore up its innovation edge and to improve its clean energy policy in order to send clear signals to innovators, pointing out that China is already doing so.