China Does Not See US Climate Cooperation Separately from Other Issues

The tense relationship between China and the United States may also have implications for tackling climate change. China’s deputy trade minister said climate cooperation could not be separated from the trade issues that have strained Washington-Beijing relations.


Deputy Minister Wang Shouwen made that statement at a US-China trade event in Xiamen. The relationship between the two superpowers has deteriorated considerably in recent years. Former US President Donald Trump became embroiled in a trade war with China and also criticized Beijing for the corona pandemic. Trump said the Chinese have unleashed a “plague on the world” and regularly referred to the coronavirus as the China virus.

The arrival of a new US government has also not led to a major improvement in the relationship. There is still disagreement about the corona crisis, the human rights situation in the Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Xinjiang and other issues. However, current President Joe Biden is keen to take an ambitious approach to climate change. So his administration is trying to treat that as a separate dossier in talks with China.

That China doesn’t seem to feel much for this was apparent last week when US climate envoy John Kerry visited the country. There, according to American media, top Chinese officials told him that the bad relationship could also undermine climate cooperation. “My response was: listen, the climate is not an ideological issue. It has nothing to do with party politics, and it is not a geopolitical weapon or resource,” the American told the press afterwards.

Kerry also noted that in his view, China could do more against climate change. He said he would meet his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua again ahead of the COP26 international climate summit to be held in Glasgow in November. Representatives from nearly two hundred countries meet there to discuss the measures needed to combat global warming.

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