Hypothesis: China tends to achieve in the energy and infrastructure sectors because it thinks carefully about how it will achieve a goal before committing to that goal. I know of only two strategies for reliably achieving goals:
1. “Sandbagging”: i.e., set really easy goals.
2. Bottom-up planning: consider in detail how you will go about achieving a goal before you commit. In particular, budget the resources needed to achieve the goal.
My thesis is that China does a lot more of #2 than typical Western democracies. Kyoto is an excellent example of setting goals with no plan. Those are meaningless goals – simply political gestures.