China and US pledge to fight climate crisis ahead of Xi-Biden summit | Chinathedigitalchaps


China and the United States have pledged to work together more closely to fight global warming, declaring the climate crisis “one of the greatest challenges of our time”, hours before a key meeting in San Francisco between Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

The announcement further fuels hopes the two nations can mend relations following years of turmoil over issues including trade, human rights and the future of Taiwan.

In a joint statement following climate talks in the US, they pledged to make a success of a crucial UN climate summit starting at the end of this month in Dubai.

And they recommitted to the 2015 Paris climate accord goals of holding global warming to “well below” 2C, while pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5C.

“The United States and China recognise that the climate crisis has increasingly affected countries around the world,” the statement said. “They will work together … to rise up to one of the greatest challenges of our time for present and future generations of humankind.”

US and Chinese climate envoys John Kerry and Xie Zhenhua met this month at the Sunnylands resort in California in a bid to restart stalled cooperation.

Experts agree that keeping the Paris goals in reach will require an enormous collective effort to slash greenhouse gas emissions this decade.

Xi began his first visit to the US in six years on Tuesday. He is due to meet Biden at an undisclosed location in San Francisco on Wednesday morning and then attend the annual summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum.

Xi’s summit with the US president will be the first face-to-face meeting between the US and Chinese leaders in a year and has been billed by US officials as an opportunity to reduce friction in what many see as the world’s most dangerous rivalry.

Xi waved from atop a passenger staircase attached to his Air China plane and then descended to meet US officials waiting on the tarmac, including treasury secretary Janet Yellen and US ambassador to China, Nicholas Burns.

He then got into his Chinese Hongqi, or “Red Flag”, limousine and departed the airport for the city, where demonstrations are expected both supporting and protesting against his visit.

Less than two hours earlier, US secretary of state Antony Blinken addressed ministers of the 21-member Apec and stressed the US believed in “a region where economies are free to choose their own path … where goods, ideas, people, flow lawfully and freely”.

Xi Jinping arrives onboard a plane in San Francisco, California, on 14 November 2023.
Xi Jinping arrives onboard a plane in San Francisco, California, on 14 November 2023. Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Blinken did not mention China in his remarks, but his language echoed US rhetoric in recent years in which Washington has accused Beijing of bullying smaller countries in the Indo-Pacific and trying to undermine what the US and its allies call the existing “rules-based” order.

US trade representative Katherine Tai, who with Blinken opened the Apec ministerial session, said the San Francisco meeting came at a time of “great uncertainty and challenges” for the region. She noted increasing geopolitical tensions, fragile supply chains and a worsening climate crisis.

Earlier, Biden said his goal in his talks with Xi would be to improve the relationship with China after a period of strained ties. He said he would seek to resume normal communications between the two superpowers, including military-to-military contacts.

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Biden and Xi would also talk about the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza as well as US efforts to support Ukraine.

Democratic senator Ben Cardin wrote to Biden to push for immediate freedom for Mark Swidan, Kai Li and David Lin, whom the US government has classified as wrongfully detained in China. Republicans and other Democrats have also called for their release.

“With the holiday season approaching, and the opportunity to start the new year on a more positive note in bilateral US-China relationships, I implore you to secure commitments from president Xi to release these Americans immediately,” Cardin wrote.

Cardin also asked for the release and safety of US-based journalists’ family members whom he said are missing, jailed or detained in China due to their connection to the journalists.

Economic issues will also be high on the agenda.

Biden said the US does not want to decouple from China but wants to change the economic relationship for the better. His administration has made a push to “de-risk” some critical US supply chains from China as the two countries’ economic and military competition has grown.

But it has been careful to assure countries in the region, including China, that the US does not seek complete economic separation, a notion that has fueled concerns among Washington’s partners and allies of a superpower showdown that would upend the global economy.

The Chinese severed military-to-military contacts with the US after then House of Representative speaker Nancy Pelosi visited democratically governed but Chinese-claimed Taiwan in August 2022.

Restoring the contacts is a top US goal to avoid miscalculations between the two militaries.

Supporters and well-wishers of the Chinese president await his motorcade at the St Regis hotel on 14 November 2023 in San Francisco, California.
Supporters and well-wishers of the Chinese president await his motorcade at the St Regis hotel on 14 November 2023 in San Francisco, California. Photograph: Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

Several hundred mostly pro-China demonstrators carrying Chinese flags gathered outside the Chinese delegation’s hotel ahead of Xi’s arrival in the US.

Larger protests, including by rights groups critical of Xi’s policies in Tibet, Hong Kong and toward Muslim Uyghurs, are expected to gather near the summit venue on Wednesday.

As Biden arrived in San Francisco, dueling demonstrators greeted his motorcade from the airport. Some waved Chinese flags and held banners calling for “kindly” and “warm” US-Sino ties. Others held signs condemning the Chinese Communist party.

With Reuters and Agence France-Presse