20101027 high speed train 18
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (2nd L) speaks to reporters with Satoshi Seino (2nd R), president of East Japan Railway Co., one of the country's major train operators, while standing near a bullet train at the Shinkansen Vehicle Center of East Japan Railway Co. May 12, 2010 in Tokyo, Japan. - 


STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Also today, American companies meet with a lot of the visiting Chinese delegation to talk over and sign new partnerships in clean energy. In the past, businesses have had concerns about sharing technology with China.

But as Marketplace's Eve Troeh reports from the Sustainability Desk, now they can't afford not to.

EVE TROEH: David Sandalow is an assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy. He was on the road in China recently, riding in a car going about 60 miles an hour.

DAVID SANDALOW: From behind me came the bullet train, going at about 220 miles an hour. It was amazing, to see this thing shoot by.

Shoot by us. That's what he says China's poised to do in clean energy. Everything from high speed rail, electric cars, and clean coal technology.

SANDALOW: The view that they have a lot to learn from us, and we have nothing to learn from them, is out of date.

That's in part because China is growing faster than the U.S. More demand for power and transportation means more chances to innovate. But China's central government is also dictating the switch to clean energy -- and fast, says Ken Lieberthal at the Brookings Institution.

KEN LIEBERTHAL: Where it may take six years to get regulatory approvals to build a carbon capture project in the United States, in China it'll take two years.

He says U.S. companies are coming up with new ideas. But China is an increasingly attractive place to try them out.

I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

Follow Eve Troeh at @evetroeh