U.S. national security adviser says China climate cooperation not a ‘favor’

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U.S. national security adviser says China climate cooperation not a ‘favor’

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Friday the United States does not consider China’s cooperation on climate change a favor, and that it was unclear if Beijing would fully follow through on its commitments to reduce emissions. Climate change is one of the few issues that both China and the United States, the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters, have said they could work on together to solve, even as broader ties have sunk to their lowest level in decades.

U.S. President Joe Biden invited world leaders to a virtual climate summit last week where Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated his country‘s aim to bring its emissions to a peak before 2030 and to become carbon-neutral by 2060. But U.S. officials have said cooperation with Beijing on climate would not water down U.S. efforts to hold China accountable on other issues, including what it says are economic and human rights abuses.

“We are not in the business of trading cooperation with China on climate change as a favor that Beijing is doing for the United States,” Sullivan said during an Aspen Security Forum webinar. “We think action on climate change is a fundamental responsibility in every significant country in the world,” Sullivan said, adding that “the jury is very much out” on whether China was willing to fully cooperate.

Chinese officials have said climate change should not be used as a bargaining chip in a geopolitical struggle between the world’s two largest economies. Sullivan said the first QUAD summit in March between Biden and the leaders of Japan, Australia and India, had been one of the major successes of the Biden administration’s first 100 days.

“The outcome of it is to create a better context and atmosphere for managing China’s behavior, activities, aggression, in effective ways,” he said. He said China was “taking note” of a high projected U.S. economic growth rate of 6.5% in 2021, reinvigorated U.S. alliances, and the Biden administration’s ambitious infrastructure and research investment plans.

Biden has identified competition with China as the greatest foreign policy challenge the country faces, and in his first speech to Congress on Wednesday pledged to maintain a strong U.S. military presence in the Indo-Pacific and to boost U.S. technological development.

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