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China says climate talks with US a success

BEIJING – China said on Thursday that climate talks with the United States had been a success, following high-level diplomacy aimed at strengthening cooperation between the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters.

The talks between top officials come ahead of a highly anticipated meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping next week, where the two powers are seeking to improve ties after years of frosty relations.

Beijing’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment said the talks – between US climate envoy John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua – “ended successfully” on Wednesday.

The two sides “engaged in a comprehensive, in-depth exchange of views”, it said, adding that they “achieved positive results on developing bilateral climate change cooperation and action”.

Countries will gather in the United Arab Emirates at the end of the month for the COP28 summit, aimed at building consensus for limiting global warming.

Beijing and Washington have agreed to “jointly push for the success” of that meeting, the ministry said.

That success will hinge on agreement between the US and China, which are working to patch up relations that sank to some of their deepest lows in recent years over issues including trade, human rights and national security.

Washington sent top officials in 2023 to Beijing in a bid to re-establish high-level dialogue.

This week, Chinese Vice-President Han Zheng said his country was open to talks with the US at “all levels”.

Neither the US nor China have officially confirmed the upcoming Biden-Xi talks. But informed sources said on Wednesday that the two sides had made arrangements to hold the meeting on Nov 15 on the sidelines of next week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, which the US is hosting.

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‘Not smooth’

Asked to confirm whether the summit would go ahead, China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday warned the “road to San Francisco is not smooth, and we cannot be on autopilot”.

“Both sides must… truly implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state, eliminate interference and overcome obstacles, enhance consensus and accumulate results,” the ministry’s spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular briefing, alluding to a meeting in 2022 between Mr Xi and Mr Biden in Indonesia – the last time they met.

Mr Biden and Mr Xi both spoke positively about those talks, saying they were looking for ways to avoid conflict.

The Chinese leader in October stressed that there were “1,000 reasons to improve China-US relations, but not one reason to ruin them”.

China has been outraged by growing US pressure to contain it globally across a range of sectors. This includes US restrictions on high-tech chips, which Washington fears Beijing will put to military use.

Relations have also soured over Taiwan, the self-ruled democracy that Beijing claims and has not ruled out taking by force.

But climate has long been seen as an area where the two can find common ground.

Mr Kerry visited Beijing in July after a long break in bilateral climate talks, insisting the US was not seeking to dictate cooperation terms to China. “There’s no politics or ideology in what we’re doing,” he said.

The veteran politician and diplomat said instead there was “mutual alarm” between the US and Chinese sides at the current climate situation. AFP

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