Kerry's climate visit to China a positive signal, yet limited in pushing ties forward: observers

Kerry's climate visit to China a positive signal, yet limited in pushing ties forward: observers

As ties between China and the US have been frayed in various fields, US climate envoy John Kerry's visit to China on discussion of climate issue is believed by Chinese observers to be a positive signal, though the impact of the visit on bilateral ties is still limited.

The US State Department said Kerry would travel to Shanghai and Seoul, for talks on April 14-17, ahead of President Joe Biden's virtual summit with world leaders on climate change next week.

Kerry will "discuss raising global climate ambition," during his visits, the State Department said. In China, Kerry will be meeting his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua, Reuters reported.

Kerry is the first senior official from Biden administration to visit China.

Climate is the major area of common ground for China and US to cooperate. And sending Kerry, the former secretary of state, also a rational figure familiar with China, shows Biden administration's goodwill in climate cooperation, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times.

The success of this climate summit cannot be achieved without the cooperation and consensus between China and the US, the two largest economies and emitters, Ma Jun, director of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Yet both experts doubted this cooperation will drive bilateral ties out of plight and lead to collaboration in other fields, as the visit will solely focus on climate issues.

As US political circle is now poisoned by anti-China mentality, Kerry feels the urge to balance those voices with rational ones, said Ma, noting that Washington's envoy faces the dilemma of reaching a comprehensive deal of close cooperation and excluding noises that could threaten the deal.

Li also said that considering US current political atmosphere, cooperation on climate change is hard to change ties of bilateral relations. "Yet a face-to-face negotiation on pragmatic issues is better than no contact at all. If anything positive comes out of Kerry's visit, it will still be critical to the China-US relation," he noted.

Washington's climate envoy's visit to China and South Korea also comes at a sensitive time when Japan's decision of discharging radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean angered Beijing and Seoul. The US indulgence of Japan's decision also invited itself waves of condemnation from the Japan's two neighbors.

"The radioactive water discharging incident will surely overshadow Kerry's visit to those two Asian countries. US indulgence on Japan showed the selfish intentions of Washington's Asia-Pacific policy, which is to put its narrow-minded strategic interests above the interests of the people from the region and even global human health and safety."

Li noted that the US must show sincerity by abandoning narrow-mindedness and hypocritical geopolitical competition mentality, otherwise it will be hard to form a concrete climate cooperation campaign with China and South Korea.