Kerry urges U.S.-China cooperation on climate change |

Kerry urges U.S.-China cooperation on climate change

The Associated Press

Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday the United States and China must work together to stave off a global catastrophe from climate change. He appealed for greater cooperation between the world powers despite strains between them over cyber theft and maritime security.

Kerry heads to Beijing this week to set the stage for a visit by President Obama for a regional summit and talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping. That will be the first leg of a three-nation swing through Asia, intended to underscore the president’s commitment to the region despite American focus on security crises in the Mideast and Eastern Europe.

There have been growing signs of friction in the U.S.-China relationship in the past year, despite efforts to expand areas in which the nations work together and forge closer personal ties between their leaders. Obama and Xi held an unusually informal summit meeting in California in June 2013.

Kerry emphasized what Obama administration officials have been saying since they declared a reorientation of American foreign policy toward Asia during the president’s first term — that the “rebalance” toward the region is not aimed at countering the growing might of China.

“The U.S.-China relationship is the most consequential in the world today. Period. And it will do much to determine the shape of the 21st century. That means that we have to get it right,” Kerry said in an address at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington.

But Kerry made it clear the United States wouldn’t back down over its differences with China on cyber espionage, human rights violations and maritime security in the South China Sea, where China has disputes with several of its neighbors that could spark conflict.

“Our differences will undoubtedly continue to test the relationship,” Kerry said.

Kerry praised China’s help on combating nuclear proliferation by Iran and North Korea and welcomed a growing Chinese role for the stability of Afghanistan as the United States draws down its forces.

He commended China for committing $130 million in aid to combat Ebola in West Africa and to deploy a military unit to Liberia.

“That’s global leadership,” Kerry said.

He made the case in stark terms for greater cooperation between the United States and China on climate change, which he said presented not just an environmental threat to the world, but one to the economy, health and security as people compete for food and water resources.

“That will change the nature of security and conflict in the world. That’s the reality of what we’re up against. That’s why it is so imperative that the United States and China lead the world with genuine reductions and put us on a path to real progress,” Kerry said.

Kerry said that together, the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies and energy consumers, account for nearly 50 percent of global emissions.

Despite the appealing logic of the United States and China working together to tackle global problems, and Xi’s eagerness for what he calls a “new model of great power relations,” Beijing has taken an increasingly defiant stance toward Washington on issues on which they disagree.

China has pulled the plug on a dialogue on cyber security after the United States in May indicted five Chinese military officials over allegations of cyber espionage against American companies. China has reportedly accelerated land reclamation in the South China Sea, despite calls by the United States for a moratorium on such construction.

“The administration is continuing to try to influence these Chinese policies but just isn’t really having much impact,” said Bonnie Glaser, a China specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. “Xi Jinping seems to have more of an appetite than his predecessors for a contentious relationship with the United States.”

Kerry was departing Washington Tuesday. Before he arrives in China, he’ll be stopping in Paris, where he’ll meet with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Wednesday to discuss a range of issues, including the Islamic State group, Ebola and Ukraine.

In Beijing, Kerry is to meet top diplomats from Australia, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand and, of course, China. He then will make a brief detour to Muscat, Oman, to meet with negotiators on Iran’s nuclear program, before returning to Beijing for Obama’s arrival for an economic summit of Asia-Pacific leaders starting Monday. The president will later travel to Myanmar and Australia.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.