US Must End Its 'Crackdown' on China or Lose Climate Cooperation, CCP Warns Amid Kerry Trip

Biden climate czar opened negotiations by praising China for its 'incredible job' on green energy

Biden climate envoy John Kerry (Getty Images)
July 17, 2023

The United States must end its "crackdown" on China or lose "any kind of cooperation" on climate change, the Chinese Communist Party's flagship newspaper warned on the second day of Biden administration climate envoy John Kerry's trip to the country.

Government-run propaganda rag Global Times on Monday lamented the "continuing U.S. crackdown on China's technological development," adding that if America does not "mend the past frictions" with China, the communist nation will not cooperate on climate.

"If the U.S. continues its crackdown on China, escalating tensions and hostility between the two sides, it is unlikely to be conducive to any kind of cooperation, including on climate change," Global Times said in its editorial. "While Washington has long wanted to isolate climate change issues from its other political and trade policies related to China, there is actually no way to separate bilateral cooperation on global warming from the broader context of China-U.S. relations."

The CCP's threat comes as Kerry, who serves as President Joe Biden's climate czar, spends four days in China to "engage with [Beijing] on addressing the climate crisis." Kerry on Monday praised the Chinese government for "doing an incredible job of building out renewables" and urged the United States and China to put aside "political issue[s]" and "come together to take action." Those comments, GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley argued on Monday, show why Kerry "might be the worst member of Joe Biden's admin."

Kerry "wants America to ignore the fact that China is preparing for war, spying on us, hacking our govt, & infiltrating our institutions so he can make nice with [Chinese president] Xi Jinping on climate change," Haley tweeted.

Kerry, whose office did not return a request for comment, is not the only Biden administration official to travel to China in recent weeks. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen from July 6 to 9 held talks with China's top economic officials—talks that saw Yellen water down tough-on-China language that has angered the CCP. Yellen, for example, refused during her trip to say that the United States is working to "decouple" or "de-risk" from China's economy. Instead, Yellen argued that America merely wants "diverse" supply chains, language that the top Biden administration official hopes will "allay China's concerns," according to the New York Times.

Kerry has long expressed regret that the "climate issue has gotten mixed up into all the other tensions that exist between our countries." "They've kind of pulled back a little bit, expressing the feeling that all we're doing is bashing them and bashing them," Kerry said in March, nearly one year after then-House speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip to Taiwan prompted China to suspend U.S. climate talks.

Kerry last week said he hopes that his trip to China will prompt the communist nation to cut back on coal, given that China burns more coal than the rest of the world combined and is by far the world's largest carbon emitter. But China has pledged to limit its coal consumption before, only to build record numbers of new coal plants.

In 2014, for example, China said it would work to lower emissions by capping its annual coal consumption at 4.2 billion tons by 2020, a move that then-U.S. president Barack Obama said "shows what's possible when we work together on an urgent global challenge." In 2021, China exceeded that figure by more than a billion, consuming a whopping 5.24 billion tons of coal. One year later, Xi approved the equivalent of two new coal power plants per week.

Still, Kerry has cited Xi's word as proof that China is making progress on climate change. The Biden climate official in 2021 lauded Xi for using the term "climate crisis" for the first time, arguing that the rhetoric showed the Chinese president was ready to "do something" to save the planet.