The U.S.—home of Tesla and major car-makers pledging to get rid of internal-combustion engines—is seen by many as a leader in alternative-energy vehicles. But many other countries are moving quickly down the path, including one that may surprise some Westerners: China.

The Chinese government recently declared that carmakers wishing to do business in the country need to meet aggressive electric-car production targets. As a recent New York Times story notes:

Beijing has already called for one out of every five cars sold in China to run on alternative fuel by 2025…. A Chinese official recently said the country would eventually do away with the internal combustion engine in new cars.

China’s population is a cool billion more than that of the U.S. It goes without saying that whatever its government does gets the attention of anyone hoping to sell product there–and carmakers hope to sell many, many products to eager Chinese consumers in the coming years.

China’s rules may not be perfect, but there is little doubt that the country is supporting the alternative-energy transportation market with regulations that support, and in some cases propel, industry’s efforts. The U.S. would be wise to take notice, and—where it makes sense—follow suit.