China’s Xi Agrees to Take Part in Biden’s Climate Summit
Xi Jinping, vice president of China, left, listens while U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the International Studies Learning Center in South Gate, California, U.S. (Photographer: Tim Rue/Bloomberg)

China’s Xi Agrees to Take Part in Biden’s Climate Summit

Chinese leader Xi Jinping accepted an invitation from U.S. President Joe Biden to join a summit on climate change, one area where the two countries are cooperating despite frosty ties on other issues.

Xi will attend via video link on Thursday, China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday. China hopes the conference promotes “a global joint response to climate change,” ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular briefing in Beijing. He repeated that the Asian nation is ready to cooperate with the U.S. on the basis of mutual respect.

Washington and Beijing are at odds over a range of issues, from allegations of forced labor in Xinjiang and China’s tightening political grip over Hong Kong to U.S. efforts to curb China’s role in supply chains. Xi used a speech Tuesday to the Boao Forum on Asia to challenge Washington’s global leadership, saying the world needed “justice, not hegemony.”

Still, the two nations have shown they’re eager to work together to tackle climate change. A joint statement released after U.S. climate envoy John Kerry visited Shanghai last week said Washington and Beijing would support implementation of the Paris Agreement and promote a successful United Nations climate change conference in Glasgow this year.

“China maintains an open attitude when it comes to climate cooperation and welcomes dialogue,” said Zhang Monan, senior fellow at the U.S.-Europe Institute at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, a think tank in Beijing.

“However, if countries continue to pressure China or adopt confrontational and non-cooperative tactics, then China will address this with corresponding actions,” she said.

Xi met German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron last week for a virtual climate conference. The European leaders welcomed his renewed commitment for China to achieve CO2 neutrality by 2060, a spokeswoman for Merkel said, and the three also discussed the coronavirus pandemic and global vaccine supplies.

Washington dropped out of the Paris climate accord under the Trump administration, and China has been critical of the move. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said during Kerry’s visit that the U.S. is to blame for delaying the agreement’s progress.

The U.S. is preparing to host 40 world leaders at the summit on Thursday and Friday. The virtual conference will bring together 17 countries responsible for 80% of global emissions and gross domestic product, the White House said.

Biden will pledge to cut U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions by at least half by the end of the decade, the Washington Post reported, citing two people briefed on the plan.

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