Entanglement of Climate and Trade Overshadows US-China Relations: Experts

  • Asia

Smoke belches from a coal-fueled power station near Datong, in China's northern Shanxi Province on Nov. 19, 2015. (Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry went to China twice in the last six months but failed to get Beijing to cooperate on climate issues.

In their meeting on Sept. 1, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Kerry, “China-U.S. climate co-operation cannot be separated from the wider environment of China-U.S. relations.”

However, later that month, Beijing suddenly ordered a series of blackouts allegedly to “reduce carbon emission.”

Taiwanese economist Wu Jialong thought that the true motivation behind the power cuts was political rather than environmental.

Wu said his point can be seen from two events. first was on Sept. 9 when Biden made a phone call to Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping. While the content of the call largely remains hidden from the public, it is known that the release of Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou was discussed. Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, was arrested in Canada on Dec. 1, 2018, for possible violations of U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Two weeks after the phone call, two things happened: Meng was released; Beijing ordered blackouts.

Wu told Pezou, “power cuts are temporary. It was in exchange for Meng’s release. Xi wanted to impress Biden, ‘see, I can keep my promise.’ But it can’t solve the climate and emission issues. It is also impossible for Beijing to use power cuts in exchange for lowered tariffs.”

Pro-CCP Think Tank Cautiously Optimistic

On Oct. 25, a China-based pro-CCP think tank, Intellisia, released a report saying that the China-U.S. relationship is moving in a direction favorable to the CCP.

In addition to increased communications between high-level officials, the report listed two indicators, namely the release of Meng and the inconclusive investigation of the coronavirus origin.

Intellisia report said that the CCP considers the virus origin the “most politically sensitive topic, yet the investigation result surprisingly did not point to China as the origin, instead it only asked for transparency and more data sharing from China.

“Perhaps the Biden administration realized Beijing’s hypersensitivity and the strong stance against this issue,” the report concluded.

Another event approved by the think tank was that on the same day Meng was released, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo told Wall Street Journal that she seeks to improve U.S. business ties with China, and she plans to bring American executives to China.

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton commented that Raimondo is “not only doing the bidding of the China lobby, she’s actively recruiting for it.”

CCP’s Renewed Climate Pledge ‘Mission Impossible’

On Oct. 28, China submitted an updated “Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) on fighting climate change” to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ahead of the U.N. climate change talks in Glasgow.

In the NDC, China pledged to increase solar and wind power capacity, and become carbon neutral by 2060. Both Wu and financial analyst Huang Shicong told Pezou that it is not that simple.

According to Wu, thermoelectricity power amounts to 77 percent of China’s electricity production, while hydropower amounts to 17 percent.

“To decrease carbon emission, one must change the energy structure, which is expensive to do but Beijing would rather spend the money on international organizations and American politicians,” Wu said.

“In addition, western China is where more wind and solar power plants can be built,” Huang explained, “and the eastern coastal area is where most power is consumed. So, there is the problem with power storage and long-distance power transmission. ir power grid is another big issue.”

Both experts agreed that wind, solar, and hydropower rely heavily on the weather and are unpredictable.

Huang said that it is almost impossible for China to reach its own pledged goals.

“ whole world is in doubt because they reopened quite a number of coal mines due to increasing electricity consumption,” Huang said. “It shows that what they’ve done so far is a total failure. Who would believe what they said in the NDC?”

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Pezou : Entanglement of Climate and Trade Overshadows US-China Relations: Experts