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US climate envoy John Kerry is set to kick off his second visit to China inside five months under China’s invitation, at a time when the bilateral relationship has hit a nadir not seen in decades.
China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment announced on Tuesday that Kerry would visit China this week, under China’s invitation. During his visit, Kerry will discuss cooperation on climate change between China and the United States and the upcoming 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua in the Chinese city of Tianjin.
Analysts believe that a series of fiascos at home and abroad has made Washington realize that cooperation with Beijing is essential for it to deal with multiple affairs, so that Kerry’s visit, apart from enhancing global cooperation on climate, also serves as testing the waters on whether collaboration could be extended beyond the global warming battle.
Kerry’s visit comes just ahead of a key United Nations climate meeting – the COP26 in Glasgow in November where nations are expected to enhance their targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within this decade.
“The recent extreme weather that has caused incidents around the globe has warned countries of the urgency to address climate issues.
By inviting Kerry twice, China is demonstrating its willingness to strengthen cooperation with the United States on climate change and showcases its image as a responsible bellwether in tackling this global puzzle,” Li Haidong, professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times.
Days before Kerry’s visit, some US media, including The Wall Street Journal and CNN, cited sources saying the US special climate envoy will press Chinese leaders to declare a halt on financing international coal-fired projects as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and ask China to accelerate its timeline to decarbonize the economy.
Yang Fuqiang, a research fellow at Peking University‘s Research Institute for Energy, told the Global Times that “developing countries in the BRI prioritize boosting the economy, which results in large amounts of carbon emissions. But without help from China’s technology and capital, emissions will be higher than they are now.”
The expert noted that China is gearing up to phase out coal consumption and achieve its goal of carbon neutrality, and it will not bow to any external pressure to act rashly.
Yang said China’s development in the digital economy, the new-energy industry, such as photovoltaics and super computers, all contribute to pushing forward the country to shake off its reliance on traditional energy. Yet, paradoxically, the United States is trying to slap sanctions on these fields, which thwarts China’s development, Yang noted.