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Agreements Chinese Signed With TVA Strong Foundation for Future Projects

By Craven Crowell

September 25, 1996
The Nashville Banner

W ith 1.2 billion people, China is certain to become the largest consumer of goods and services in the world, and economic progress is directly tied to China’s ability to increase its electric power generation.

The Chinese economy is growing a staggering 10 times faster than the population growth.

The leadership’s recognition of the inherent relationship between economic growth and electric power production has resulted in an ambitious goal in China’s five-year plan to increase electric power production by 40 percent. But China’s needs far exceed just answering the question of how to achieve new power production. China does not have an integrated national power grid, depending instead on 12 independent transmission networks. Its rivers regularly overflow their banks, with devastating results, and the country has vast rural areas in need of electricity.

Because of similarities between the Tennessee Valley in the 1930s and many of China’s river basins today, the Tennessee Valley Authority’s worldwide reputation as a successful manager of the sixth largest river in the United States has great appeal to the Chinese. Only about 14 percent of China’s hydroelectric potential has been developed, and the opportunity to apply the technology and management expertise developed by TVA is of obvious interest to the Chinese.

TVA recently reached agreements that will open the door to help with the development of two river systems in China and provide consulting services and training on other matters. The agreements resulted from an Economic Opportunities Through Water and Energy Conference jointly sponsored by TVA and the state of Tennessee that concluded Sept 6 in Beijing.

About 65 representatives of business-with interests in Tennessee attended the conference along with TVA representatives and Gov. Don Sundquist, who served not only as the senior leader of the conference but also did an outstanding job representing the delegation in official meetings with Chinese officials. Because of the high attendance at the conference and the participation of Jim Sasser, the U.S. ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, TVA and the state of Tennessee received an unexpected invitation to meet at the government guest house with State Councilor Chen Junsheng, who is at the same level as a vice premier of China. It became quite clear in that meeting that senior Chinese officials are eager to promote a more extensive business relationship with Tennessee Valley businesses and TVA.

Councilor Chen said he did not want TVA to “sign agreements with China and then put them on the shelf.” We assured him we fully expect to move forward with specific projects and initiatives.

There is little doubt that TVA has an excellent reputation in China and can serve as an instrument to open doors for Tennessee Valley businesses. Indeed, TVA and the state left Beijing with confidence that we had built a strong foundation for increased involvement in the Chinese marketplace by companies in our region. We were briefed on important aspects of conducting business by executives and authorities who have extensive experience in the China marketplace. The Chinese people were very open and appeared to be interested in doing business with us.

Conference participants could imagine the value of bringing their products and services to a nation the size of China. Success in international trade depends on trust and understanding, and those things take time to grow. We planted the seeds of opportunity at our conference and we are certain, with time, the fruits &business ventures will grow.

As Governor Sundquist said at the conference, “Tennessee and China have complementary interests, and we are building the basis of a friendship and partnership that offers enormous potential for both sides.”

As for TVA, we achieved our objective by signing three memoranda—one with the Ministry of Water Resources at the Great Hall of the People, another with the Ministry of Electric Power, and the third with the Lishui Hydro and Power Corp. The agreement with the Ministry of Water Resources provides the framework for TVA to review the master plan for development of the Han River, the largest tributary of the Yangtze River and to exchange information on the modernization of’ hydroelectric units. The other agreements provide for us to exchange information on the operations and maintenance of coal-fired power plants and to assist in the development of the Li River basin.

TVA, which has bridged the gap between government and economic development in our region, can play a unique role in China. We look forward to a relationship with China that will be beneficial to our business interests, to the economic development of the Tennessee Valley and to the continued progress of the largest developing coon-try on Earth.

Craven Crowell is Chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority

 

 

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