John Kerry, the United States’ climate envoy, has called for cooperation to tackle global warming and to redefine the tense diplomatic relations between China and U.S; the world’s two biggest greenhouse gas emitters.
Kerry is the third senior U.S official in recent weeks to travel to China for meetings with their counterparts there. He follows U.S Secretary of State, Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen.
On Tuesday, July 18, 2023, his second day of talks in Beijing, Kerry met with the ruling Communist Party’s head of foreign relations, Wang Yi.
Kerry told Wang Yi that climate talks could provide a new start for US-China ties, which have been mired in disputes over issues including trade, technology and the self-governed island of Taiwan.
During the meeting at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, Kerry averred, “Our hope is that this can be the beginning of a new definition of cooperation and capacity to resolve differences between us.”
“We are very hopeful that this can be the beginning not just of a conversation between you and me and us on the climate track but that we can begin to change the broader relationship.”John Kerry
Also, the U.S climate envoy told Wang that Biden was “very committed to stability within this relationship, but also to achieve efforts together that can make a significant difference to the world”.
“From experience, if we work at it we can find the path again in ways that resolve these challenges,” Kerry said.
He added, “The world is really looking to us for that leadership, particularly on the climate issue.”
To express its displeasure over then-House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August, China severed certain mid- and high-level relations with the administration of US President Joe Biden last year, notably over climate matters. The democratically run island is regarded by Beijing as being a part of its territory.
Since then, other issues have strained relations, notably the passage across the US of what Biden administration officials claimed to be a Chinese spy balloon.
China Believes Solution To Problems Can Be Found Through Dialogue
In his opening remarks, Wang said the sides had suffered from a lack of communication, but that China believes through renewed dialogue “we can find a proper solution to any problems.”
“Sometimes, small problems can become big problems,” Wang said, adding that dialogue must be conducted on an “equal basis.”
That was an apparent reference to U.S. criticism of China’s aggressive foreign policy, rights abuses against Muslim and Buddhist minorities and travel sanctions against officials ranging from the Beijing-appointed leader of Hong Kong to the country’s Defense Minister.
Moreover, Wang described Kerry as “my old friend”, saying they have “worked together to solve a series of problems between both sides.”
He praised Kerry and his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenzhua, for their “hard work.” Kerry and Xie met for hours in a Beijing Hotel on Monday, July 17, 2023.
U.S officials have declined to comment on the Kerry-Xie discussions. Beijing said after the talks that “climate change is a common challenge faced by all mankind”.
Later on Tuesday, Kerry paid a courtesy call on newly appointed Premier Li Qiang, the party’s second-ranking official, who told him China and the U.S. should cooperate more closely on the “extremely large challenge” posed by global warming.
No meeting has been set with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and China’s Foreign Minister, Qin Gang has been absent from public sight for three weeks.
As the leading emitter of the greenhouse gases driving climate change, China has pledged to level off carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. The U.S. and the European Union have urged China to adopt more ambitious reduction targets.
The Biden administration also aims to decarbonise the U.S economy by 2050.
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