John Kerry Heads To China for First Excessive-Degree Talks Beneath Biden

President Biden’s local weather envoy, John Kerry, was set to reach in China on Wednesday, the primary Biden administration official to go to the nation at a second of excessive diplomatic tensions.

In its formal announcement of the journey, the State Division mentioned that Mr. Kerry would “focus on elevating international local weather ambition” forward of a virtual climate summit that President Biden plans to host for dozens of world leaders later this month. The summit’s aim is to prod international locations to do extra to cut back carbon emissions and restrict planetary warming by 1.5 levels Celsius, a threshold scientists argue is required to avert catastrophic adjustments to life on the planet.

President Biden has invited China’s chief, Xi Jinping, to the summit, however Mr. Xi has not but accepted the invitation. His participation in an American diplomatic initiative, have been it to occur, could be a major signal of China’s willingness to work with the US regardless of rising tensions over sanctions and other measures the brand new administration has taken in coordination with its allies.

Mr. Kerry’s go to to China underscores the Biden administration’s intent to cooperate with China on shared challenges, together with local weather, the coronavirus and nuclear proliferation even because the international locations are locked in an more and more fraught political, technological and navy competitors.

There have to date been few outward indicators of cooperation as the 2 international locations spar over China’s crackdowns in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, and its navy operations close to Taiwan and in the South China Sea.

In a transfer more likely to anger Beijing, the State Division additionally introduced on Tuesday {that a} delegation of former American officers, together with two former deputy secretaries of state, would go to Taiwan as a “private sign” of Mr. Biden’s dedication to the island democracy, which Beijing claims as a part of its territory. Chinese language officers have sharply criticized the administration’s indicators of assist for Taiwan.

Mr. Biden has made clear that he sees China as a number one strategic menace to America. At a testy diplomatic summit in Anchorage final month, senior Chinese language and American officers traded sharply vital assessments of one another’s insurance policies.

The go to by Mr. Kerry comes after the discharge of a major annual intelligence report on Tuesday that warned China’s effort to increase its rising affect represents one of many largest threats to the US. China’s technique, in response to the report, is to drive wedges between the US and its allies. The report additionally recognized local weather change as a rising menace to the US.

Biden officers perceive that successfully tackling local weather change requires cooperation from China, the world’s high emitter of greenhouse fuel. As secretary of state within the Obama administration, Mr. Kerry himself helped to safe China’s settlement to affix the 2015 Paris Local weather accords.

Mr. Kerry has already visited a number of nations in his function as Mr. Biden’s envoy for local weather issues. In March, Mr. Kerry met with European officers in London, Brussels and Paris. This month, he visited the United Arab Emirates, India and Bangladesh.

Whereas in New Delhi, Mr. Kerry met with Russia’s international minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, whose nation, among the many world’s high emitters of greenhouse gases, can also be a strategic rival of the US.

In China, he’ll meet Xie Zhenhua, the chief Chinese language negotiator within the talks that led to the Paris settlement. Mr. Xi referred to as him out of retirement in February to reprise his function as chief local weather envoy in what was considered as a response to Mr. Kerry’s appointment.

Mr. Xie and Mr. Kerry met throughout these earlier rounds of local weather negotiations and have been in contact since taking up their new roles. In addition they appeared collectively throughout a digital convention final month referred to as the Ministerial on Local weather Motion.

Mr. Xi has highlighted the necessity for motion on local weather change, committing China to specific new targets for decreasing emissions. He pledged final 12 months to hurry up the purpose when emissions peak in China, which had beforehand been in 2030, and to succeed in “carbon neutrality” by 2060 — that means that the nation would emit no extra emissions than it takes from the environment by planting forests or engineering.

Environmentalists cheered these objectives, however later expressed disappointment that the Chinese language authorities didn’t element methods to attain them after they unveiled a brand new five-year financial plan in March.

On the identical time, China has continued to approve new coal vegetation, one of many main sources of carbon emissions, prioritizing social stability and economic development of an essential trade at house.

Thom Woodroofe, an analyst on the Asia Society Coverage Institute who’s finding out Chinese language-American local weather cooperation, mentioned at a chat final month that each international locations appeared to need to insulate the difficulty of local weather change from their different disputes.

“From China’s perspective, there’s a recognition that they’ve extra to achieve than lose from discovering a strategy to cooperate with the US on local weather,” he mentioned.

Whereas President Trump was within the White Home, China raised its profile as a number one participant in local weather change coverage. “With Biden’s inauguration, they don’t merely need that place to be swept apart,” he mentioned.

Chris Buckley contributed reporting and Claire Fu contributed analysis.

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