John Kerry, the United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, has begun three days of meetings with his Chinese counterparts ahead of a leaders’ summit on the environment being held by President Joe Biden later this month.
As the world’s worst polluters, action by the US and China is vital to staving off climate disaster, and this has been seen as a key area where there is room for cooperation and joint-leadership between the two superpowers.
Kerry will meet with Xie Zhenhua, China’s special envoy for climate change affairs, for talks this week, China’s foreign ministry confirmed Wednesday, “on issues including China-US climate change cooperation and COP 26.”
This year has seen Beijing ramp up pressure on Taiwan, which has been ruled separately from mainland China since 1949 and has never been controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.
An unofficial US delegation — retired lawmakers and officials — landed in Taipei on Tuesday, in a demonstration of Washington “commitment to Taiwan and its democracy,” a senior administration official told CNN.
Room for compromise?
But Beijing’s actions over Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang, as well as longstanding disputes regarding trade policy, pushed the new administration to take a harder line than it might have desired, and hope of a new era quickly soured.
Diplomat Yang Jiechi warned the US to stop meddling in China’s “internal affairs” and said it should “stop advancing its own democracy in the rest of the world,” adding that many Americans “actually have little confidence in the democracy of the United States.”
But while the hoped for reset in relations has not been forthcoming, commentators on both sides have held out climate policy as an area where there is still room for engagement and joint leadership.
“The radioactive water dumping incident will overshadow Kerry’s visit to those two Asian countries,” international relations analyst Li Haidong told Global Times. “US indulgence on Japan showed the selfish intentions of Washington’s Asia-Pacific policy, which is to put its narrow-minded strategic interests above the interests of the people from the region and even global human health and safety.”