When a country’s most profitable industry, which employs hundreds of thousands of residents, also happens to be known for its risks, there are always new and unique ways to better protect those who drive the industry’s success.

Recently, the solar power debate has been heating up. Spurred in part by China’s burgeoning interest in solar as a long-term energy solution—the Chinese government announced last year that it intends to spend $454 billion over the next decade on alternative energy and to quintuple its solar production by 2020—governments, researchers, and pundits in the United States and other countries are forging the next steps in harnessing the sun. While many debates have focused on the costs – which are still high but dropping steadily – of rolling out the technology on nationwide scales, or on improving the efficiency of existing solar technologies, a more fundamental debate may shape the future of the industry. This is the question of whether traditional or thin-film solar panels provide the best way forward.

In 1971, Pete Townshend of The Who wrote the song “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Its lyrics reflected the cynicism of the times – a growing conviction that revolutions often succeed only in bringing to power regimes similar to those they replaced. The ’60s were gone and with them the sense of hope and euphoria that characterized the era, or so my father tells me. I wasn’t alive in the ’60s, and I like Townshend’s song because of the heavy power chords and aggressively synthesized organ.

Recent political uproar around the world has driven home the potential liabilities that U.S. construction companies face in pursuing ever-expanding global opportunities. Instances of stranded construction workers and long work stoppages in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere are vivid examples of the risks of commercial building amid nation building.

Q: This fall, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, is leading a trade mission of U.S. companies looking to do business in China and Mongolia’s coal and mining sector. Could you tell readers about what you hope to accomplish with the mission? 

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