GE's Ga-Ga Over China

Some CEOs just never take a break. Consider the case of General Electric's (NYSE: GE  ) Jeff Immelt. On Monday, while millions were celebrating Memorial Day in the States, Immelt was in China, talking up his company's commitment to the region.

GE has signed an agreement with the Chinese government that calls for a $500 million commitment to produce non-polluting technologies. Some of that amount could go to a research center in Shanghai that currently employs more than 2,000 engineers and which the Associated Press says GE is thinking about expanding.

Clean energy persists as a common theme throughout the deals that were cut during Immelt's visit. That makes sense. GE is, after all, one of the world's largest producers of technology for wind and solar power. And Chinese firms, like their U.S. counterparts, will be forced to face the environmental fallout that comes from a burgeoning population and economic growth. GE may be able to profitably aid the transition. Immelt certainly thinks so: He believes his company's $5 billion in sales from the region will double by 2010.

More interesting to me, however, is GE's collaboration with the Chinese government. The company says it will provide management and leadership training for 2,500 individuals from the industry and the government. I find that startling. Remember: Aside from Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL  ) , GE has been perhaps the greatest management training ground in the history of business. Current CEOs Bob Nardelli of Home Depot (NYSE: HD  ) and Jim McNerney of Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) are just two highly successful GE alums.

A GE pedigree won't offer entrepreneurs a free pass, of course. But with the firm's history of success in grooming leaders, combined with a market that's seeing increased venture investment daily, I suddenly find it easy to believe that the next Jack Welch won't be anything like the current one -- especially when it comes to his address.

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Fool contributorTim Beyershas never visited China, though he would like to someday. Tim owns shares of Oracle. You can find out which other stocks he owns by checking Tim's Foolprofile. The Motley Fool has an ironcladdisclosure policy.


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