Good timing for Jeff Immelt in China

Bruce Einhorn

It’s Chindia Week for GE. The company’s Chairman and CEO, Jeff Immelt, was in Bombay today, having been to Beijing on Monday. According to the AP, Immelt revealed that General Electric plans to spend $250 million in India on health care and infrastructure projects. While in China, the GE chief told reporters that the company had signed a deal with the Chinese government to spend about $50 million to develop environmentally friendly technology. “GE is to cooperate with Tsinghua University in Beijing, one of China's top science schools and the alma mater of President Hu Jintao, on research for less environmentally damaging products,” reports the AP (here's a link to the AP story in the San Jose Mercury-News). “Immelt said details of that agreement were still being worked out but he expected it to focus on coal gasification and other energy-related fields and water-filtration technology.”

And just in case you didn’t believe that China desperately needs new tech of that sort, news comes the day after Immelt’s announcement that the Yangtze River, the biggest in China and the world’s third longest, is dying. According to a report in the Shanghai Daily, Yuan Aiguo, a professor at the China University of Geosciences, says that the Yangtze’s pollution problem is “very serious,” adding that “without new steps to curb pollution, 70 percent of the river's water could rate below third class in three to five years.” The city government’s paper then quotes another scientist, Liu Guangzhao, saying that if Yuan is right, then “many plant species will disappear and the Yangtze will become a dead river.” The fact that the Chinese press is allowed to report such things is one indication that the government recognizes that it has a severe problem on its hands, so GE probably wins some important brownie points with China’s leaders by boosting its spending on green technology in the country.

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