Tuesday, March 16, 2010



Since the 2008 financial crisis many countries are searching for speedy economic solutions to lead us out of the worst world economic down turn since the 1929 depression. In President Obama’s 2010 state of the union speech he unleashed plans for pushing America fast train deployment ahead starting with eight billion dollar loan guarantee to Florida. He even mentioned China’s fast train progress and potential export market in his speech. For the first time since 1949 a U.S. president mentioned China in a state of the union speech in a positive till without criticism. Hopefully the fast train will also help American recovery.

Following news headlines from China Daily clearly indicates that China is moving full steam ahead to speed up her fast train deployment nationwide;

“The much anticipated Beijing to Shanghai fast train will start operation one year ahead of original schedule in 2010 because of the stimulation package. The 12 hour trip will now be only three hours.”

“At least ten new rail projects are being planned or constructed in the west now, which eventually lead to the Beibu Gulf region, the "gate" for western provinces to go to the sea. With a new rail network, even Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in the far western inland will no longer be far from the coast.”

“China already has 6,552 km of rail track in operation – the most high-speed rail track in the world. Ultimately, China plans to construct a 120,000-km railway network, including 50,000-km of high-speed rail track, by 2020.”

“China now wants to export China's high-speed railway technology to North America, Europe and Latin America. State-owned Chinese companies are already building high-speed lines in Turkey and Venezuela. Many countries, including the United States, Russia, Brazil and Saudi Arabia, have also expressed interest.”
It appears that China’s fast train network and export potential is reminiscent of the successful American automobile, commercial airline development and Internet communication explosion during the 20th Century. In each case America has the internal market as initial launching pad to jump start ahead of the world. America with her vast North American continent land mass in each of the above cases was able to fully utilize her market and manufacturing resources to become leader of the world in those important industries.
In my field of study, the commercial airline space, America the dynamic young country after Second World War was able to attract many talented scientists from Europe and Asia to help build the biggest aerospace industrial center in the world. As international commercial air travel expands Europe was caught unprepared to play catch up. Half a century later America still dominates the commercial airline industry.
Three decades ago America realized she was behind Japan and Europe in fast train deployment because of her over reliance on the automobile. Because of oil crisis there was a general interest to explore the use of fast train to complement airline travel. One of the promising routes is the heavily used corridor between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. The author had the opportunity to be involved with the Las Vegas city planning commission as a consultant. Unfortunately despite active promotion and considerable interest the project did not materialize. Now the project has lost its luster and imitative especially in this economic down turn. Unless there will be Federal stimulus funding as the case in Florida the project will not happen because of lack of funding.
In the fast train case, China’s large and difficult land mass and huge population call for more rail than automobile travel. Her government funded policy of long range infrastructure planning also is paying off. Over the last two decades she was willing to pay for Japan, German and France technology to build on. Today she has developed her own proprietary fast train industry with over 900 relevant international high speed train patents. Chinese companies plan to bid for contracts of building high-speed railways in the United States as China is willing to share its advanced technologies.
The future of fast train world market looks bright as the concern for energy conservation is growing. With China’s head start and her difficult terrain and huge domestic market she will continue to build momentum. FAST TRAIN WILL SURE BE THE LOCOMOTIVE FOR CHINESE ECONOMIC RECOVERY ON FAST TRACK.

Francis C W Fung, Ph.D.
Director General
World Harmony Organization
San Francisco, CA

Thursday, March 4, 2010


By Francis C W Fung, Ph.D.
James C Townsend, Ph.D.

“On July 17, 2008 Al Gore, former US Vice President, made an important US energy independent announcement. The main theme was to announce the timely and important initiative of converting all US electricity production to green energy in a decade, by 2018. The initiative is wise and admirable, but is it realistic? Is it achievable and how? Currently the US electricity generation is 70% by fossil fuel, 20% by nuclear power and only 10% by solar, hydro, wind and other forms of renewable energy. Gore’s ambitious goal is achievable if supported by concerted national efforts of Solar–Stirling Engine programs to gradually replace existing fossil fuel power plants, large or small.
“America is a country of vast resources and can do spirit demonstrated by the mass mobilization of WWII in airplane manufacturing capability. Half a century later the world has not yet caught up. In the urgency of the present national energy and climate crisis, the same ‘can do’ attitude can be applied to the Green Energy for Electricity Initiative (GENEI) for success. The GENEI policy will put US so far ahead in Solar–Stirling system manufacturing that the world will not be able to catch up. The momentum of GENEI advocacy will make us the largest energy technology and Stirling Engine export nation in the history of world green energy technology and product export. The potential world market of GENEI technology and products together with our reduction in oil imports can be so great as to more than halve the current American trade deficit. The US is in great need of a president who will adhere to the mission and vision advanced by Al Gore.”
Above are the opening two paragraphs from a paper titled “Green Energy for Electricity Initiative (GENEI), Alternative to Nuclear and Fossil Energy” (Appendix 1) by the first author on July 18, 2008. Now, on Feb. 16, 2010 President Obama announced an $8.33 billion loan guarantee for the new Vogtle nuclear reactors, the first step in the Administration's push to jump-start the dormant U.S. nuclear construction industry. Obama also urged Congress to set aside political differences and triple the budget for nuclear loan guarantees. "On an issue that affects our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, we can't keep on being mired in the same old stale debates between the left and the right, between environmentalists and entrepreneurs," Obama said.
In view of this unprecedented announcement by Obama, for the first time in over 30 years, the Nuke debate has come back in full force, so as to be able to bring back a “Nuclear Power Renaissance” according to some circles. As stated by Michael Grunwald in “Why Obama’s Nuclear Bet Won’t Pay Off” (Appendix 2), “Obama did acknowledge ‘some serious drawbacks with respect to nuclear energy,’ but the drawbacks he mentioned — waste disposal and reactor safety — are not the real obstacles to a rebirth. It would be nice to have a permanent Yucca Mountain-style repository for spent nuclear fuel, but for now plants have been storing their waste on-site without major problems. And the nuclear industry's safety record has improved dramatically in the 30 years since the Three Mile Island meltdown, although there are still occasional blips like a recent radioactive leak at a Vermont plant. The NRC is not exactly a hostile regulator, but sometimes it does show teeth; in October, it identified problems with the Westinghouse AP 1000 reactor design, which could create additional delays for nearly half the proposed new reactors, including the ones at Vogtle.
“But waste disposal problems, safety issues and regulatory delays do create a much more serious obstacle to a nuclear comeback: They jack up the already exorbitant cost of construction. That is the truly serious drawback of nuclear energy. Recent studies have priced new nuclear power at 25-30 cents per kilowatt-hour, about four times the cost of producing juice with new wind, or coal plants, or ten times the cost of reducing the need for electricity through investments in efficiency.
“Meanwhile, nuclear costs keep spiraling out of control; last year, the estimates for several reactors doubled, and for one Pennsylvania reactor more than tripled. This is why credit rating agencies keep downgrading utilities with nuclear ambitions, which increases their borrowing costs and makes their projects even more expensive.”
As explained in Appendix 1,”The cost of nuclear power plants is manifolds higher than the equivalent Solar–Stirling Engine power plants because of the strict need and regulation requirements to prevent nuclear radioactivity leaks. All nuclear power plants must be housed in huge fortified containment housing, and all systems of hot and cooling water circulation must be heavily protected and isolated. The construction cycle is also unduly long, generally over 5 years. Whereas, for Solar–Stirling power plants, without need for civil structures, site constructions can be less than a year. Despite all the built in safety factors for nuclear power plants, mechanical failures and human errors do occur. Accidents like Three Mile Island in the US and Chernobyl in Russia is unavoidable and the consequences are too dear to accept.”
Besides the unlikelihood of Wall Street financing of nukes without a prohibitive Federal subsidy and the issues of safety and nuclear proliferation of nuke spent fuel treatment mentioned above, there are a multitude of reasons not to go for a Nuclear Power Renaissance. Following are some of the pro and con reasons to say no to Nuke:
1) The five years required for nuclear site construction (after all delays for permits and environmental reviews) is so long that nuclear plants cannot answer current financial and job recovery needs.
2) In comparison, the short onsite construction time of typically less than one year for a field of Solar–Stirling engine power plants can provide immediate jobs in both manufacturing and construction, helping to meet current financial and job recovery needs.
3) Massive Stirling engine fabrication for electric generation can utilize surplus Detroit internal combustion engine manufacturing facilities that will otherwise be idled as automobile electrification comes in full force in the very near future.
4) The strategy of reusing engine-manufacturing facilities provides hope for reviving Detroit’s economy; this is a national priority that demonstrates the principle of efficiency and conservation manifested to the nth degree.
5) Massive deployment of nuclear power plants nationwide will need expansion of expensive special manufacturing machinery and facilities, which will be very time consuming and further extend the dilemma of the nuclear site construction time being too long to help the current financial crisis. (For one discussion of the costs, see <http://www.nirs.org/nukerelapse/calvert/highcostnpower_mdpirg.pdf>.)
6) Stirling electric generation is inherently modular. Individual modules range in power from 1kW to 50 kW or more and can be grouped together in multiples to generate as much power as a nuclear plant. So, a Solar–Stirling power plant can be built up incrementally to any size desired as the need grows.
7) Stirling electric generation can also be built in a distributed manner at all appropriate locations; a single 50 kW module can easily fit in a less than 0.1-acre site. Nuclear plants are very location sensitive because of their large structural size and area requirements for safety and strong security.
8) Nuclear plants must be built near water for massive cooling, which will infringe upon prime land and can cause thermal pollution. The Solar–Stirling power plant does not need cooling water and thus can be built in unoccupied desert lands such as those in the U.S. west and southwest.
9) Stirling engines are multi-fuel external heat engines. Besides solar energy, they can be powered by geothermal heat, waste heat, and biomass or any combustible waste as fuel.
10) Currently America Solar–Stirling Engine technology development leads the world. We must act in time to stay ahead, so as not to loose the massive market for Solar–Stirling power plants in the developing world. An economically attractive approach is to jump start development by teaming up with China immediately to exploit the win–win advantages offered by both sides. The biggest Solar–Stirling engine market will be China, followed by the developing world.
11) The World Harmony Organization is already in active discussion with leaders of China on a “Grand Alliance Strategy for Stirling Power”. The developing world is ready and willing to go forward with electrification by Solar–Stirling power. It is not ready for Nukes and should be discouraged from going on that wrong track.
12) In his Feb. 16, 2010 speech, President Obama made a strong pitch that America must retain its capability as the number one exporter of nuclear power plants by building the new Vogtle plant and other nuclear reactors. But, the export of nuclear power plants concurrently necessitates the shipping of enriched uranium fuel to developing countries. The devastating effect of nuclear proliferation is not limited to the explosive destruction of nuclear weapons but also includes the radioactivity of the enriched uranium and its fission products. Transporting nuclear fuel is more dangerous than transporting a biological virus because the effect of any nuclear fuel leakage has a longer life span than any leakage of a biological virus. The world is more connected than most people realize — what we leak will eventually spread around the world. It is not responsible for a Nobel Peace Prize winner to advocate the export of nuclear fuels.
13) America is fortunately very abundant in solar power. We do not need to resort to more Nukes when we have the technology to quickly exploit that readily available, safe, and environmentally friendly energy. We already have 104 nuclear power plants spread around the country; that’s enough.

In Service of Stirling Engine Renaissance
General Partner
Green Energy Stirling Engine Partnership (GESEP)
San Francisco, CA

1. Green Energy for Electricity Initiative (GENEI) – Alternative to Nuclear and Fossil Energy, Francis C. W. Fung, Ph.D., July 18, 2008 (See Appendix 1)
2. Why Obama's Nuclear Bet Won't Pay Off, Michael Grunwald, February 18, 2010 (See Appendix 2)
3. Stirling Energy Alliance (SEA) Grand Strategy, Francis C W Fung, Ph.D., General Partner, Green Energy Stirling Engine Partnership (GESEP) (See Appendix 3)
4. Stirling Engine Renaissance in 21st Century, Francis C W Fung, Ph.D., September 2006, World Harmony Organization (Available on request from <francis@worldharmonyorg.net>.)

China's unstoppable move to modernity as a cultural state

China's unstoppable move to modernity as a cultural state
By Francis C W Fung (chinadaily.com.cn)Updated: 2010-03-02 09:29

China missed out on the 19th Century industrialization. This time she is moving towards modernity with determination as a Cultural State. Soon President Obama will go to Indonesia and Australia for state visits. He will be likely welcomed as a return of the favorite son and will be told that China's growth is good for Indonesia. In Australia he will hear that for the first time, a white Anglo-Saxon nation state's continuing growth is dependent on China.

In a Feb 1, 2010 PBS Charlie Rose interview, Larry Summers, economic adviser to President Obama, offered the following summary of his view on the 21st Century. First, the most momentous event in the 21st Century is the rise of the developing world, not the current financial crises. Second, the most important thing a major nation must do is to empower the growth of the vast middle class. Third, in the 21st Century we must know how to harmonize with the developing world, most of all with China.

Above vision seem in all respect a fit description of China's growing momentum as analyzed in detail by Martin Jacques's book "When China Rules the World". Contrary to the title of the book, Jacques's final conclusion is that China will not rule the world. He believes the rise of China will be the revival of the Chinese culture, and China will resume its heritage of a magnificent civilization as a Cultural State.

Martin Jacques also argued strongly that modernity is not necessarily Westernization specifically in reference to China. China is so immense, following her major developed cities and regions, her rural areas still have a lot of room to grow. Jacques with in depth analysis to differentiate China from the European Political States also defined China as a Cultural State and not a Political State because of her long civilization. Of interest, Jacques pointed out that China as a Cultural State in her development will revisit her ancient cultural heritage and rediscover her cultural roots such as Confucianism and Daoism and all their teaching of Harmony. Also China in her move towards pluralism will invent her own democracy. This is supported by John and Doris Naisbitt, in their 2009 book China's Megatrends. John and Doris detailed in their book that a top down and bottom up convergence democracy is emerging in China that is holding the government accountable.

China's move to modernity is unstoppable despite America's intervention with the so called Smart Diplomacy. China's growth will benefit not only her but the whole world. Further, China will not challenge America's military hard power rather in soft power because she is a cultural state. Within China as a cultural state various political systems are allowed. That was the terms on which Hong Kong returned to China as one country two systems. In the same way the mainland extends her hand to Taiwan for reconciliation.

China's growth is unstoppable because the momentum she has generated within and the vast potential she has created for her continuing growth together with the world. The Western media in its eagerness to be politically correct still writes with deep rooted Cold War mentality. Is China really a communist state according to our Cold War definition? Will bring back the Cold War work to stop China growth? America took her eyes off the ball because of preoccupation with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars during the last ten years. During that time China achieved unprecedented growth in human history in scale and speed. In the future we have no choice but to harmonize with China for win-win mutual growth as implied by Larry Summers. Any Smart Diplomacy in criticizing China's Internet management, selling Arms to Taiwan and meeting with Dalai Lama will only demonstrate to the developing world that we are interfering in China's internal affairs. Such is the affinity of the developing world with China as the leading developing nation.

China's growth for our own healthy perspective should be seen as the simultaneous growth of a massive collection of Chinese regions such as Pearl Delta, Yangtze Delta, Beihai Delta and cities like Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Wuhan, Jilin, Xian and even Urumqi among many. Imagine this incredibly large number of formidable regions and cities are growing in the tradition of Japan and the four Asian Tigers with Confucian work ethics? The Chinese government today sans any political agenda, is single mindedly focused on bringing 1.3 billion citizens to the goal of better life with dignity according to Chinese Premier Wen JiaBao in a recent chat with Chinese net citizens. China is developing with the concept of scientific development towards a harmonious society. Harmony Renaissance is China's development as a cultural state.

There has been heavy criticism by Western media that China's economy grows by less desirable autocratic capitalism because the West believes modernization means Westernization. This is our double standard of passing our judgment onto China when the Chinese move towards modernity is actually very similar to the way the four Asian Tigers in their move to modernity during the 20th Century. They all follow Confucius tradition with heavy borrowing of technology from the West. In China's case however, her development model consists of a hybrid system of government guiding both State and private industries according to Martin Jacques. This Chinese innovation and success is remarkable due to the ability of the State owned enterprises can also go public and raise private capital and the private industries at times also get federal funding. This two way flexibility is what turned around the failing Chinese State Owned Enterprises and helped many private industries to flourish. This flexibility is what Deng Xiaoping called "Crossing the River by Feeling the Stones" and is quite a stroke of Chinese genius.

China is not a political nation state. She is a cultural state. She goes through all measures to prove non interference in other nation's politics. She has neither political agenda nor a development model to enforce on others. This is what makes her attractive to developing nations as a partner. China has 5,000 years of cultural tradition and preeminence. Her ancient cultural influence was extended mostly through harmony rather than outright conquest. A long lasting continuous culture like China's cannot be subject to broad criticism from a young dynamic country such as America without America appearing rude and hubris to other developing ancient cultures.

China development in harmony with Asian, African and developing nations of the world is particularly worth mentioning. Today China is the largest investor in Asia and Africa according to Martin Jacques. China's labor and technical teams are also busy working to build badly needed infrastructure in Africa. China's complementary development and affinity with the developing world will thus continue to grow with the rise of the developing world during the 21st Century. This move towards world harmony and mutual development is totally unstoppable.

The author is the General Director of World Harmony Organization. The opinions expressed are his own.