Left-wing billionaire George Soros recently said: "There is a really remarkable, rapid shift of power and influence from the United States to China. China has now got to accept responsibility for world order and the interests of other people as well." Touting China as leader of some new world order got American hackles up -- except among the Big Green foundations and advocacy groups that followed Soros to China and succeeded where he failed. Nobody much remembers, but Soros created his Fund for the Reform and Opening of China back in 1986, when he was busy subverting communist rather than capitalist countries. It was approved by then Premier Zhao Ziyang and housed in a Beijing think tank

But the 1989 Tiananmen demonstrations and military crackdown led to Zhao's ouster. Soros' fund was demonized as a CIA front, his Chinese representative arrested, and Soros branded a nefarious CIA agent.

Since then, Soros has kept his distance. True, he invested in Hainan Airline in 1995, and in China's Chery Automobile in 2006, according to Forbes, but from the safety of his Manhattan headquarters.

Since Soros' debacle, Big Green groups, including the Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Greenpeace Fund have soothed China's nervous tic about foreign nongovernmental organizations by offering a government-friendly clean-energy drive, funded by Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Starr Foundation and the Packard Foundation.

But the monster truck of Big Green's China rally is the $100 million Energy Foundation, a San Francisco-based foundation of foundations -- 14 of them, all told, with combined assets over $18 billion.

This consortium runs the China Sustainable Energy Program, enriched by $24.9 million from the Packard Foundation and $41 million more from the Hewlett Foundation and two others.

The CSEP Web site -- www.efchina.org <http://www.efchina.org/> -- displays three videos with titles that sound like Mao-era poster slogans: "China Slashes Energy Use, Carbon Emissions with Industrial Efficiency;" and "China Takes the Lead in Wind Energy Development" and "China Reduces Solar Power Costs with Large-Scale Manufacturing."

The CSEP home page also links to a New York Times op-ed with the teaser, "China has turned climate change into a four-letter word: J-O-B-S," and scolding Congress for rejecting the cap-and-trade bill.

The CSEP Web site, however, does not brag about China's new coal-fired power plants, nor about it becoming the world's No. 1 air polluter.

And it says nothing about China's power play in tightening exports of rare earths -- 17 chemical elements that are absolutely essential in manufacturing hybrid cars, cell phones, missiles, computer monitors -- and large wind turbines. China produces 97 percent of the world's rare earth elements, the United States none.

An official of Colorado-based Molycorp Minerals told me that wind turbine magnets require two rare earths, neodymium and praseodymium. These two are irreplaceable for their strength-to-size ratio.

Was Big Green's clean energy program so effective that the Chinese government decided to keep rare earths for its own expanding wind farms?

China SignPost issued a report titled, "Gray Gold," which found other reasons. China wants to sell value-added products like the turbines themselves, which they hope will encourage technology transfer -- you tell us how, we build it for you cheap. Environmental protection was a secondary objective, says China SignPost.

At home, the Energy Foundation recently helped create the Green Tech Action Fund to lobby Congress for "reducing greenhouse gases and promoting clean energy technologies and energy efficiency."

Somehow, that suggests Big Green's China rally is a very expensive show for American consumption.

Or maybe it's just easier working in tandem with a communist government that rules by decree. And without environmental lawyers fighting power-line construction.

Examiner contributor Ron Arnold is executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise.