When it comes to China’s overseas investment in developing countries, what comes to mind for many is infrastructure building and traditional manufacturing. That’s now changing. Chinese investment in solar energy is giving this industry a big boost.

Vinasolar was established in 2014, with a belief that the Belt and Road Initiative would bring more opportunities in renewable energy cooperation between China and Vietnam.

Yang Yongzhi, CEO of Vinasolar, told CGTN that his company is on the way to becoming China’s biggest overseas company of its kind.

“When we first came, our annual output was only about 200 megawatts’ worth of solar installations, and now it has jumped to 4.8 gigawatts. That’s a growth of 24 times.”

Not only has the company itself witnessed explosive growth, it’s also introduced nearly a dozen Chinese solar companies to invest in Vietnam.

In October this year, China’s Photovoltaic (PV) Industry Association was set up. This is the first Chinese trade association established by the China Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam aimed at boosting economic and trade cooperation between the two countries.

Yang, who’s also the chairman of the association, said that the move will not only make Vietnam better understand solar industry, but also propel bilateral cooperation in renewable energy.

“Our cluster of solar investment cooperation here combined takes up about 10 percent of the total output worldwide. That’s a notable spot in the landscape of the global solar landscape. And in the future, we will have an even better price advantage with more Chinese companies at different streams of the industry to come to Vietnam. This will also enhance the economic cooperation of the two countries.”

But does the Chinese investment pose a threat to the local solar producers?

Benny Diep was among the first Vietnamese to invest in solar panel manufacturing. He says the influx of Chinese solar companies actually helps in speeding up the development of this sector in Vietnam.

“We don’t think Chinese solar companies are our competitors, because the scales of investment are totally different: local producers are much smaller. And we target different markets. Chinese-invested products are exported to the US and Europe, and ours are sold mainly in Vietnam. So it’s a great opportunity for us to learn and to cooperate.”

The busy production line in Vinasolar could represent the future of China’s overseas investment, which is no longer focusing solely on infrastructure building and manufacturing. China’s rapid expansion in the field of solar energy has not only improved the quality of economic cooperation between China and Vietnam, but will make the development of both countries greener and more sustainable.