"Clean energy cooperation will be a key litmus test of the ability of China and the United States to build a partnership based on mutual needs and opportunities. The outcome is of long-lasting global economic, environmental and geopolitical importance.
While quiet cooperation does exist between the two countries in the form of decades of joint work on energy efficiency standards and through a new but under-funded US-China Clean Energy Research Center, far higher profile actions, however, point toward conflict.
First, 2009 ended with an unproductive US-China standoff at the Copenhagen Climate Summit.
Second was China's rapid scale-up of production and global sales of renewable energy technology - specifically solar panels, wind turbines and batteries for the burgeoning electric vehicle markets.
Third are the high-level tensions over Chinese dominance in the production of rare earth metals for advanced electronics.