Analysis: John Kerry’s visit to Shanghai is a test of whether the US and China can cooperate and disagree at the same time

John Kerry, the United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, has begun three days of meetings with his Chinese counterparts ahead of a summit on the environment being held by President Joe Biden later this month.

As the world’s worst polluter, action by the US and China is critical to preventing climate disaster, and has been seen as a key area where there is room for cooperation and joint leadership between the two superpowers.

Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping China achieved net zero emissions by 2060, emissions will increase before 2030, although this week A climate group warned To meet such ambitious targets, China would have to close about 600 of its coal-fired power plants over the next 10 years.

Kerry will meet with China’s Special Envoy for Climate Change Affairs Xie Zhenhua for talks this week, China’s Foreign Ministry confirmed on Wednesday, “on issues including Sino-US climate change cooperation and COP 26.”

But as the US climate envoys touch on another group of Presidential representatives, the Chinese mainland Taiwan’s self-governing island has been visited – which China claims as its territory – to discredit Beijing and shed light on how many points of disagreement there are within US-China relations.

Cross-strait tension

This year, Taiwan’s pressure has increased on Beijing, which has been ruled by separation from mainland China since 1949 and has never been controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.

this month, 25 Chinese warplanes breached Taiwan’s air defense detection zone, The largest incursion in months, and the People’s Liberation Army Navy has practiced in the Taiwan Strait.

A senior US official told CNN that an informal US delegation – retired lawmakers and officials – descended on Tuesday in Taipei in a demonstration of “Washington and Taiwan’s commitment to democracy.”

Biden has continued with the trajectory of improved relations between Washington and Taipei under the Trump administration, as far as Beijing’s Chengin. Last weekThe State Department “issued new guidelines to encourage the US government’s relationship with Taiwan, reflecting our deep informal relationship,” while in March, the US Ambassador to Palau, John Hennessy-Niland, traveled to Taiwan Official capacity in more than 40 years to become the first US ambassador.
Support for Taiwan in Washington is widespread and bipartisan, and the island has won globally for its response Coronavirus epidemic – Improve your position internationally. But such preoccupation has made relations with Beijing more tense, taking a more aggressive stance on the issue of Taiwan as the ruling Communist Party prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary later this year.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Legion said that Taiwan has zero space to compromise on the issue and not even an inch. This week. He said Beijing urged Washington to “control the situation” and “refrained from playing with fire, immediately halting any form of official contact with Taiwan, judiciously and appropriately handling Taiwan-related issues” , And refrain from sending any wrong signals to ‘Taiwan independence’. Forces, lest it shake the foundations of Sino-US relations and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. “
Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesman for the State Council’s Office of Taiwan Affairs, gave an even clearer message, Telling journalists On Tuesday, China’s recent military exercise around the island was a sign “We are determined to stop Taiwan’s independence and stop Taiwan with the US. We are doing it with action.”
“We do not promise to give up the use of force, and maintain the option to take all necessary measures,” Ma said South China Morning Post. “We are aimed at the intervention of external forces and a very small number of separatists and their separatist activities.”

Room for compromise?

After the relationship broke up during Trump’s term in office, both Beijing and Washington had high hopes Biden may return to relative generality in US-China bilateral relationsIn particular, given his previous time in the White House under President Barack Obama, a better engagement with China.

But Taiwan’s actions over Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang, as well as long-standing disputes over trade policy, prompted the new administration to take a tighter line than might be desired, and a new era. Expectations quickly turned sour.

it was obvious When US and Chinese negotiators met in Alaska for the first time last monthOne turned into an angry shouting match with a press briefing as the two countries condemned the other’s human rights record.

Diplomat Yang Jiechi warned the US to stop focusing in China’s “internal affairs” and said it should “stop advancing its democracy to the rest of the world,” adding “many Americans are actually united.” There is little faith in the state’s democracy. “

Since then, Chinese state media have highlighted issues such as ongoing racial discrimination in the US Violence against Asian-AmericansFacing these problems with the situation in Xinjiang, where Beijing has been accused of widespread human rights abuses against Uygar and other ethnic minorities and even genocide.

But while a reset in the relationship is not expected, commentators on both sides put climate policy as an area where there is still scope for engagement and joint leadership.

“During the Obama administration, the US-China climate relationship was central to global climate progress that culminated in the Paris Climate Agreement,” Todd Stern, former US climate negotiator, Wrote in september of last year. He said that failure to revive such engagement would have national security consequences in the United States and around the world.
For his part, Carey has recognized the potential difficulties of his role within a broader, increasingly tense, US-China relationship. Talked to cnn this week, Carey said: “Yes, we have disagreements with China on some key issues, of course. But the climate has to stand alone.” If not, “You’re going to hurt your own people.”
The American public appears in broad agreement with Kerry: a survey by the Asia Society Policy Institute in February Found: “Voters expressed apprehension toward involvement with China in many areas such as automobiles and healthcare, with innovation and business, despite this, voters are very receptive to potential partnerships for clean energy development.”
State wise writing in china deli This week, Liu Yuanling, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, also noted at the favorable Sino-American talks last month in Anchorage, Alaska, Chinese officials repeatedly said that the two sides could cooperate in climate actions ”
However, there were signs in the state’s media somewhere about how tense mass relations could poison such cooperation. Global Times, a nationalist newspaper, Quoting political experts Saying that Kerry was invited to Shanghai “signaled to the US that climate negotiations between the two countries are on equal terms, and that China is not an ‘attendant’ of the US-focused climate campaign.”
The paper also linked Kerry’s visit to controversies Japan’s decision to start dumping more than 1 million metric tons Over two years treated radioactive water from its destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant at sea, which has drawn criticism in both Beijing and Seoul, although it has been approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“The radioactive water dumping incident will overshadow Carey’s visit in those two Asian countries,” international relations analyst Lee Hadong told the Global Times. “America’s indulgence over Japan showed the selfish intentions of Washington’s Asia-Pacific policy to impose its narrow-minded strategic interests above the interests of the region and even of global human health and safety.” . “

With washington Reportedly pushing Japan To take a stronger line on Taiwan, this could be another point of contention in the US-China relationship, preventing any progress Kerry has been able to make in Shanghai.


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