SHANGHAI -- On a foggy afternoon in early 2012, Kenn Ross heard his cellphone ringing. He picked it up, and that was the beginning of a multimillion-dollar dialogue. "We know that your company helps form acquisitions between Western firms and players in China. Do you have relations with providers of solar technology, coal gasification technology and other renewable energy technologies?" a Chinese man asked over the phone. The man was calling from a Chinese state-owned mining company headquartered in Inner Mongolia, Ross recalled. Like many state-owned companies here, the mining company has operations worth tens of billions of dollars. But regardless of how wealthy they are, Chinese companies often lack the cutting-edge technology needed to run their operations with less energy and lowered emissions.