NEWS / OPINION By Mathew Carr
Sept. 3, 2021 — China is reportedly seeking a concession from the U.S. in climate negotiations — dropping limits on the import of Chinese solar panels — see notes 2 (Washington Post story citing U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry) and 3.
China protested U.S. sanctions on Chinese solar panels imposed by President Donald Trump in early 2018 — see note 4.
It’s still further evidence of how deeply damaging Trump’s administration and the Sino-American trade war was to the global climate fight.
Nations including the U.S. are trying to get China to adopt a tighter emissions limit in the five years from 2026.
China on Sept. 2 widened its criticism of the west to include the EU.
Kerry travels to Seoul from China. Kerry’s two Twitter feeds @JOHNKERRY and @CLIMATEENVOY silent on talks with China.
China criticises EU on Taiwan.
China and the EU have been cooperating on carbon markets.
Germany calls upon the EU to enable a coalition to rapidly deploy a military force in the wake of U.S. pullout from Afghanistan — see note 1.
Biggest nations / blocs still apparently struggling to agree on climate action ahead of UN negotiations in November in Glasgow.
China Foreign Ministry Excerpt, Sept. 2:
Bloomberg: First, the South China Morning Post reported that John Kerry will meet with Yang Jiechi today. Could you comment on that, and if possible, tell us what their agenda might be? Second question, the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday adopted a report that urged the EU to begin work on a bilateral investment agreement with Taiwan. It also suggested that the bloc rename its trade office in Taipei to the “European Union Office in Taiwan”. Does the foreign ministry have a comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: On your first question, please stay tuned. We’ll release information in due course.
With regard to your second question, the Chinese Mission to the EU has released a statement. The so-called “EU-Taiwan Political Relations and Cooperation” report concocted by the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs gravely violates the basic norms governing international relations, the one-China principle and the commitment on the Taiwan question made openly by the EU upon establishment of diplomatic relations with China. We strongly condemn and firmly reject it.
We urge the relevant committee and members of the European Parliament to immediately correct their wrong words and actions concerning Taiwan to avoid further damage to China-EU mutual trust and cooperation. The EU side is advised not to underestimate the Chinese people’s firm resolve, unwavering will and strong capability to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity and immediately cease all provocations and confrontational moves.
U.S. State Dept. Press Conference Excerpt, Sept. 2:
QUESTION: So Climate Envoy John Kerry is currently in China, actually in Tianjin. Could you please update us on how is that meeting going? And China is concerned that the climate cooperation is at risk over the political tension. Do you share the concern?
MR PRICE: Well, I believe the special envoy is now in Seoul. I believe he’s concluded his meetings in Tianjin.
What we know is that we are committed to working with the international community and with the PRC on climate as an urgent issue, and we certainly hope that Beijing will engage with us on the same basis on this issue. And we say this because we know we don’t have a choice: There has to be some degree of cooperation on this existential threat. We are the world’s two largest polluters. If we are not able to find a way to cooperate and to work together to achieve greater climate ambitions, it’s not only to our mutual detriment; it is to the broader detriment of the international community.
Without significant additional action by the PRC, whose emissions represent almost 30 percent of that global number, we will be in a much more difficult spot. That is precisely why earlier this year at the climate summit that President Biden convened he announced an ambitious climate target for the United States as well. The world needs us to cooperate together on issues like climate. We think there is certainly space for cooperation. We’ve been able to do it before, and we hope the PRC is able and willing to continue that cooperation.
QUESTION: And just lastly, the White House has indicated that this administration actually is looking forward to engage China at the highest level, like the upcoming G20. Is this still the diplomatic effort that you are pursuing?
MR PRICE: We have said that we will engage the PRC when it is in our interest to do so. Climate is manifestly one of those areas where it is in our interest to do so. But it is a relationship that you’ve heard us say before is multifaceted. It is one that is dominated by competition, and we intend – and our policy towards the PRC is predicated on this idea of competition. And that’s why you’ve heard us in the first instance talk about the investments we’re making here at home when it comes to our own economy, our own workforce, our own infrastructure, our own R&D, our own technological capabilities.
It is also why we have worked concertedly arm-in-arm with our partners and allies around the world. The first international travel Secretary Blinken took was to the Indo-Pacific, where we met with two of our important treaty allies there.
It is also a relationship that is characterized in some areas by adversity and with an adversarial approach, and we all know what those areas are. And then, of course, where there are areas where it’s in our interest, where it’s in the interest of the United States to cooperate with the PRC, we will seek to do that as well. And climate is a good example of that.
QUESTION: Thank you. So Germany today called upon the European Union to enable a coalition to rapidly deploy a military force. That call came after a meeting, discussed the lessons from Afghanistan withdrawal. Do you have any comment on that, and do you believe that coalition, that force, does affect the NATO or the relationship with the U.S.?
MR PRICE: Well, we are aware of the EU discussions on this, and we continue to believe that a stronger, more capable Europe is in our shared interests. It’s in Europe’s interests; it’s in our interests as well. Given the overlapping transatlantic challenges, we won’t succeed without enhanced NATO-EU cooperation. And that’s something that we continue to strongly support. When the democracies that make up NATO, when the democracies that make up the EU stick together, they constitute a tremendous force for a stable and open international order. That is even more the case when the United States is working hand-in-hand with NATO and the EU, who are in turn working with one another.
NATO and the EU must forge stronger and institutional links and leverage each institution’s unique capabilities and strengths to avoid duplication and potential waste of scarce resources. When it comes to the details of this arrangement, we’d, of course, refer you to the EU.
QUESTION: A quick question on Yemen. Today, Secretary Blinken spoke with his Saudi counterpart – according to the readout – says he expressed the United States strong commitment to its longstanding strategic partnership, also the commitment to helping Saudi Arabia defend its people and territories. Does that mean any change in the kind of support that the Saudis get from the U.S., or is it the same? And if it’s the same, how do you support them?
MR PRICE: Well, as you know, the Saudis recently endured another attack from Houthi militants in Yemen. This one was on August 30th, when the Houthis struck against a civilian airport and Abha, wounding eight civilians and damaging a commercial airliner. The fact is that our partner, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, does face a threat from Yemen. We are standing with our partner. We obviously have robust security and counterterrorism cooperation. And if there are any changes we have to announce, we will.
(Smooths language, adds links, adds Washington Post story link)