As Chinese Leader Xi Jinping made his first appearance with President Joe Biden at the White House’s virtual global climate summit on April 22, Republican lawmakers are warning his administration against cooperating with Beijing on climate change.
Citing the regime’s long track-record of breaking its promises, they say the Chinese regime cannot be trusted to act upon any commitments to reduce its emissions that it may make. They also fear that the Biden administration may make concessions to Beijing to get its cooperation on climate, at the expense of other crucial issues including human rights and the regime’s unfair trade practices.
At the summit, Xi said the country would “strictly limit” increasing coal consumption in the next five years, and phase it down in the following five years.
Xi also repeated a pledge from last year to achieve net zero emissions by 2060. In a conciliatory note, Xi added that “China looks forward to working with the international community, including with the United States” on tackling climate change.
Some Republican lawmakers objected to Kerry’s trip, saying it was a fruitless endeavor.
“Communist China will never honor any climate agreement. These ‘negotiations’ make America look soft and harm the discussions about our primary interests regarding national security and human rights,” Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said in a tweet on April 14.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) described the visit as “sending the absolute wrong signal.”
Recent reports have raised questions over whether made-in-China solar products, including polysilicon, use forced labor from Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region, where the Chinese regime has embarked on an expansive campaign of repression.
“Even as they appear at the summit, they’re funding billions of dollars of fossil fuel-powered plants all over the world, including within China. Their emissions continue to climb,” Rubio said.
Rubio added, “That’s why I always tell people—U.S. action alone is irrelevant when you have countries like China who continue to increase their emissions. And they’re not going to stop doing that.
“I think Xi Jinping is more than happy to see us adopt policies that would increase costs of growing our economy, but I don’t think you are going to see them do anything that is going to slow down their ability to grow,” Rubio said. “And you’re not going to see them do anything that will stop funding this sort of activity all over the world, where they now control these power plants, it gives them geopolitical leverage, too.”
Robert Atkinson, president of Washington-based think tank ITIF, said that cooperating with Beijing on climate would come at a cost for the United States.
Engagement with the regime on climate would “reduce critical U.S. leverage needed to pressure China to dismantle its predatory … mercantilist regime,” he said.
If the United States were to ask the regime to help combat climate change, Xi will use the opportunity to force the United States to soften its position of Beijing’s various abuses, according to Atkinson.
“Xi Jinping is not stupid, he’s not naive, he’s gonna say, ‘Yeah sure we’ll help you with climate. But you have to do these other things. You have to stop with the export control regime, and you have to stop criticizing us for intellectual property theft,'” he said.