Ever since July 1949, when it was designed by Zeng Liangsong, from the city of Ruian in Zhejiang province, and then approved during the first Plenum of the Communist Party in September of that same year, the Chinese flag has had five yellow stars on a red field. The bigger star symbolizes the guidance and leadership of the Communist Party, while the smaller four represent the other columns of civil society: the working class, the peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie. As all Chinese know, Mao Zedong hoisted the national flag for the first time on October 1st, 1949, in Tiananmen square.
More recently, Bloomberg New Energy Finance published Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2011, with reference to fiscal year 2010. In this ranking, China rose to the number one spot, dominating another industrial sector with a total invested amount of $49.8 billion US dollars! The United States remains in second place and Germany in third.
In yet another paradox of Chinese economic development, in the same year China is both the world’s largest polluter and the world’s biggest investor in renewable energy. China is a sort of yin-yang brand for the construction of a greener world, where environmental protection becomes more affordable every day.
The Far East is at the forefront of this progress, moving fast to a cleaner future; Asia as a whole spent more on green investment than Europe and America, and China is the biggest producer of solar panels in the world.
Is this just an advertisement for the Chinese Communist Party? Consider another anecdote: In the northern province of Shandong there is a city of 3 million of inhabitants, more or less the size of Milan or Rome, named Rizhao. Rizhao means “the sunshine city,” a title well-deserved for a town where 99% of all the buildings use photovoltaic panels for heating. Urban outdoor lighting and traffic lights are also powered by solar energy, and about 6 thousand homes cook their food using energy produced by solar panels. An additional 60 thousand farms outside the city produce their goods solely via energy from the sun. It may seem like a city of the future, but for the people of Rizhao, clean energy is very much the present. Rizhao is the Chinese green “yang” city, so close to Beijing, the polluter yin.
China’s single minded race for rapid economic development at all costs is beginning to evolve into a model of social improvement. Economic growth is being integrated into a system where other parameters are considered as well, and at the top of every agenda is the protection of the environment. There may soon be a sixth green star on that storied national flag. A future that is fast becoming the present.