Tuesday, 29 December 2009


Why denouncing China is hypocritical

There are good reasons why China is likely to be impervious
to lectures from Europeans on the morality of the drugs

Michael White
The Guardian

I'm sorry too that the Chinese have just executed Akmal
Shaikh, an apparently mentally ill Briton. He was clearly
an expendable drugs mule, cynically exploited by
traffickers who are still alive and well today.

But I'm also sorry about the international clamour to
denounce China, which sounds at least as hypocritical and
insensitive as the act itself. Can Gordon Brown and David
Cameron – to name but two – hear what they sound like?

Let's start with the basics. Most of us (not all) deplore
the drugs trade – from cultivation to distribution and sale
– which is illegal in most countries (not all) and has
spawned a huge and lucrative global industry.

Some think the "cure'' – the worldwide campaign against the
trade – worse than the disease since it underpins major
criminal enterprises on all continents. It has long been
the case, though I would personally hesitate to risk
legalising it and hoping for the best.

Different countries tackle the problem in different ways.
China, which has a rising drugs problem as it enters the
modern consumer era, is one of those which takes a tough
line. As the Guardian's Q&A points out today it is one of
the few crimes to attract a mandatory death sentence.

Enter poor Akmal Shaikh, who seems to have gone off the
rails in middle age after leading a quiet family life as a
north London taxi driver. Someone who struck acquaintances
as very odd after he emigrated to Poland with grandiose
ideas, he falls into bad company which exploits his

So he ends up landing in Urumqi, northern China, in 2007
and being caught at the airport with 4kg of heroin in his
luggage. He told police he knew nothing about it. It's a
tragically familiar story and, in his case, it's probably

In the wake of his execution the Chinese authorities sound
quite angry at criticism of their judicial system. Shaikh
had a fair trial, complete with interpreter, they say. He
was deemed fit to plead.

Mental illness? Ah, that's a tricky one. But it's easy to
see how the Chinese might take a very different view of how
it is defined. So do many jurisdictions – as we all know –
on this and many other legal issues: "self defence",
"crimes of passion", "third degree homicide", "honour
killings", lots of scope for moral relativism in all of

Reprieve and other admirable campaigns which fight for the
rights of prisoners in foreign jurisdictions have the
virtue of consistency. Thus they oppose the death penalty
wherever it exists, including the US, where it was
abolished as a "cruel and unnatural punishment'' in 1972 –
and restored in 1976 when the supreme court changed its

Though they are pretty half-hearted about it compared with
China's 1,700 or so known executions (they are reported to
sell body parts for medical use) a year, southern US states
are keenest.

As governors both George W Bush and Bill Clinton – whom so
many of us admire – signed off on questionable executions
of vulnerable, marginalised people like Akmal Shaikh. A
high proportion of the 3,000 or so Americans on Death Row –
few actually executed – are black. Britain? We last
executed a man called Peter Allen at Walton jail on 13
August 1964 for murder – three years before the final
abolition of the death penalty.

Not so long ago really (our last Etonian PM, Sir Alec
Douglas-Home, was in No 10) and, as China's very smart UK
ambassador has probably told Beijing, capital punishment
still commands as much enthusiasm here 40 years later as it
does in China, ie lots.

So there's a sovereignty issue. China – like the US – has
the right to pass and implement its own laws and
governments, governments-in-waiting in Cameron's case,
should pause before getting too mouthy. Apparently 27
representations were made to China by Britain over the past
two years – mostly quietly, I assume, which is always the
best way.

But the execution took place during the Christmas news
lull: hence the sudden high profile. Thank goodness Ivan
Lewis, the junior foreign office minister put up to talk
about it today, saidL "I'm not going to make idle threats"
– or we might be starting 2010 going to war with China.

Talking of which, the really toe-curling fact, of which
neither Dr Gordon Brown with his PhD in history, nor David
Cameron with his 1st in PPE should be ignorant, is
Anglo-Chinese history.

When Europeans started forcing the reclusive China of the
late Ming and Qing dynasty to open its doors to trade in
the 16th and 17th century the visitors wanted more Chinese
goods – all that tea, silk and lovely porcelain – than the
Chinese wanted of ours.

Sounds familiar? What the Chinese would accept was silver,
a better bet than the US dollars they now hold in such vast
quantities. This was unsustainable and in the 19th century
the British East India Company hit on the idea of importing
Indian opium to China – though it was banned by imperial
Chinese law.

I hope you've spotted where I'm heading. If not here's
Wiki's starter kit on the Opium Wars of 1839-42 and 1856-60
which culminated in the so-called "unequal treaties" and
the eventual overthrow of the Qing in 1912.

Result: China was forced to accept the trade with
devastating social consequences. In fairness I should add
that the stuff was legal in Britain at the time – as
readers of Victorian novels can confirm. The Chinese
governor Lin Zexu became a hero for opposing the trade – as
did young William Gladstone at Westminster.

All the same, it is a pretty shameful story. Perhaps it
slipped your memory? It certainly hasn't slipped theirs and
is still unravelling: they only got Hong Kong back in 1997
and have never rebuilt the burned Summer Palace at Beijing
– their Windsor.

So, one way or another, poor Akmal Shaikh was the wrong man
in the wrong place. But China is likely to be impervious to
lectures from Europeans on the morality of the drugs trade.

As the world's rising power it's unlikely to be lectured
anyway, but that's another story – one we'll rapidly have
to get used to. No declaration of war this week, please

Monday, 28 December 2009


Venezuela and China Consolidate
“Strategic Alliance,”
Expand Bilateral Trade

Public accords signing ceremony in Caracas, taken from Venezuelan TV

Published on December 25th 2009
by James Suggett -

Mérida, December 24th 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) –
Venezuelan and Chinese government officials and business
leaders met in Caracas this week to discuss bilateral
relations. As a result of the accords signed at the
meeting, Venezuela will increase its supply of oil to China
to more than 600,000 barrels per day next year, and China
will increase its investments in Venezuelan agriculture,
infrastructure, mining, and energy production.

In a press conference, Venezuelan Planning and Development
Minister Jorge Giordani called Venezuela’s growing economic
relationship with China “a consolidated strategic alliance
based on the premise of equality and mutual respect that
will be consolidated even more by two countries that have a
shared vision of a multi-polar world.”

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez vowed to supply China with
“all the oil it needs for its development and advancement”
and said Venezuela hopes to eventually supply a million
barrels of oil per day to China. According to Telesur,
Venezuela is currently China’s fourth largest oil supplier.

In addition, China’s Sinohydro Corporation and Venezuela’s
state electricity company CORPOELEC agreed to cooperate to
increase Venezuela’s hydroelectricity production. Venezuela
has experienced rolling power outages over the past three
months as a result of drastically increased demand and a
drought that caused a drop in the water level at a
principal dam.

The Chinese Development Bank Corporation also pledged a $1
billion credit for Venezuela’s state-owned mining company,
CVG, and Chinese state-owned and private companies agreed
to invest in Venezuelan railways, fish and shrimp

Venezuelan Trade Minister Eduardo Saman said he expects an
increase in Venezuela’s imports of Chinese cars, electric
appliances, pharmaceuticals, and other goods over the
coming years, and that this will help to combat domestic
price speculation.

In recent years, China and Venezuela have created mixed
enterprises, in which Venezuela maintains a 60% controlling
share, to explore for, extract, refine, and transport oil
from Venezuela’s Orinoco Oil Belt, as well as to explore
for natural gas off the Venezuelan coast.

Last year, China built and launched Venezuela’s first
telecommunications satellite, and Venezuelan students are
studying aerospace engineering in Chinese universities.

Since 2003, annual trade between the two countries has
increased from less than a half a million dollars to
approximately $5 billion in 2008. In addition to this,
China and Venezuela have signed $5 billion worth of planned
Orinoco oil accords, and created a $12 billion bilateral
investment fund for future projects.

President Chavez said the unprecedented growth in bilateral
relations between Venezuela and China has the goal of
creating a “balance in the world, a pluri-polar world,” in
which there is no single dominant super power such as the
United States. He said China “has demonstrated that it is
not necessary to attack those who are weakest in order to
be a great power.”

Since Chavez’s election in 1998, Venezuela has increased
its economic relations with countries in almost every
region of the world, including Africa, Southeast Asia, the
Middle East, and Eastern and Western Europe, and Latin

Thursday, 24 December 2009


Chinese Premiere Wen Jiabao and Brazilian President Lula Da Silva at Copenhagen

Unreasonable to rebuke China over climate talks

by Xinhua writer Yu Zhixiao

BEIJING, Dec. 24 (Xinhua) -- It is some certain European
politicians that are being irresponsible and uncooperative
when they unfairly reproach China for so-called
irresponsibility and non-cooperation in combating climate
change, especially during the Copenhagen climate talks.

Just after the conference ended earlier this month, a
handful of European politicians charged China with not
voluntarily and actively cutting emissions. They also
claimed China adopted unilateralism at the conference and
disregarded the interests of other countries.

Among the chorus, British Energy and Climate Change
Secretary Ed Miliband Monday alleged the Copenhagen
conference was "hijacked" by China and several other
developing countries, displayed "a farcical picture to the
public," and fell flat.

Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren claimed
Tuesday that the Copenhagen talks failed to make
breakthrough due to inertia of a few countries "especially
the United States and China."

As a matter of fact, China, in sharp contrast with the
claims, has exerted great effort to push forward the
Copenhagen negotiations with an eye to reaching a widely
accepted accord.

Premier Wen Jiabao flew to Copenhagen and delivered a key
speech at the talks to detail China's achievements and
future plans for fighting climate change. Wen's speech
showed China's sincerity and determination to move forward
the talks on climate change.

China, in the spirit of mutual respect and pragmatic
cooperation, maintained close contact and coordination with
all parties to help reach the hard-won Copenhagen Accord.

Over the past years, China has implemented a variety of
effective measures, including the promotion of renewable
energy, new laws, and reductions in pollution, to cut its

Between 1990 and 2005, China's carbon dioxide emissions per
unit of the GDP fell 46 percent due to its unremitting

Building on that, China also has set a fresh target of
cutting emissions per unit of the GDP by 40 percent to 45
percent by 2020 from 2005 levels. To reduce emissions on
such a large scale and over such an extended period of time
will require tremendous efforts by China, still a
developing country.

The target will be made mandatory and incorporated into
China's mid- and long-term plan for national economic and
social development to ensure its implementation will be
subject to the supervision of the law and public opinion.

Officials from some countries have highly praised China's
role at the conference. For example, Nolana Ta Ama, Dean of
the Diplomatic Corps and Togo's ambassador to China, said
Sunday that China played a leading role and made positive
contributions to the conference.

Distinctly and undeniably, China has acted as a responsible
and cooperative player at the Copenhagen talks and in
combating climate change.

Monday, 21 December 2009


Climate Change and China

London School of Economics
Ambassador Fu Ying
12 December, 2009

Professor Corbridge, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honoured to talk to you on such an important subject
as climate change.

It's a special honour, because the LSE is well-known for
its scholarship on climate change and its crucial
contribution to this global debate.

China is a huge country with a population of 1.3 billion.
It has diverse climatic conditions and a fragile
environment. The effect of climate change is a very real
threat which we face everyday.

According to Chinese scientists, the average temperature in
China has risen by 1.1 degrees centigrade in the last 5

It is higher than the reported global average. We are
seeing more frequent bouts of extreme weather in many parts
of the country. Last spring, for example, the most severe
drought in 50 years hit northern China affecting the
livelihood of 4 million people.

Environmental damage and climate change is a reality for
us. Out of the world's most polluted 20 cities, half are in

70% of Chinese rivers are polluted to some degree. China
has become the largest carbon emitter of the world.
How have we got here? China has reached this stage when it
is making great endeavours to lift people out of poverty.
Unlike you here, we have condensed 2 centuries of
industrialization into only 30 years.

Now, the Chinese people have woken to the threat and, with
the same zeal that we have embraced industrialization, we
are embracing cleaner development.

In China, climate change is not just a topic for
discussion; It's backed up with policy and action
throughout the country. Let me share some examples with

First, on the legal and policy front. China set forward a
voluntary reduction program for 2006 to 2010 period,
including 20% reduction in energy intensity per unit of

To achieve this, we amended the Law on Energy Saving and
the Law on Renewable Energy. We've also set up a strict
evaluation system for energy efficiency. This enables the
central government to hold provincial leaders accountable
for meeting energy efficiency targets.

Last month, the evaluation result for 2008 was released on
the web for all to access. Out of 31 provinces and regions,
26 fulfilled emission reduction targets. One can't
underscore enough the importance of having such
transparency as it places great pressure on those who are
not meeting the target.

Beijing is doing better, over-fulfilling its target for
2008, with over 7%. I am sure the Olympics helped. It has
already achieved over 17% for the 20% target of 2010. At
the bottom, you can see Xinjiang. It is lagging far behind
and looks unlikely to meet the target and would need a lot
of help.

Secondly, now the industries have to take very tough
decisions to achieve clean development. Projects with high
emission can no longer go ahead and some existing high
emitters are being phased out.

It is understandably difficult to push through such reforms
and there is, inevitably, resistance. Being a developing
country, shutting down factories means job losses for many
who need them.

For example, we have achieved cutting down the average
consumption of coal per unit of power by 20%, by
demolishing the high-polluting and inefficient power
plants. But it led to the loss of 400,000 jobs.

So the third point is that we have increased and will
continue to increase the percentage of cleaner alternative
energy sources. Low-carbon and energy conservation have
become new growth sectors in China. Many British companies
are actively involved in clean development projects in

In the first 9 months of this year, clean energy
contributed a third of China's newly added power capacity.
China now ranks as first in the world for solar heating and
photovoltaic generation, as well as installed hydro power
capacity. You may be surprised to know, 1 in 10 families in
China already use solar energy. That includes my family.

Many new buildings in Chinese cities are equipped with
solar energy. The fact that the Chinese people are so keen
to adopt clean energy is an excellent indicator of our
dedication to a better future.

Next, let's talk about trees and reforestation. We all know
how trees can absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. Chinese
people have really taken tree-planting to heart. It has
even become fashionable for young couples to plant trees to
mark their wedding. China has planted more trees than any
other country in the world, with 2.6 billion trees planted.
That is 2 trees per individual, an incredible number.

Last but not least, the only means for China to really
achieve its ambitious plan is through science and
technology. This is why China is investing heavily in
research and development. The country has become a giant
laboratory for testing all kinds of clean energy

In the latest stimulus package worth 400 billion pound, 15%
was invested in addressing climate change. I am sure you
will agree that it is a huge amount by any standard,
especially during the financial crisis.

Thanks to all these efforts, China is well on track to
reach our targets set for 2010. That would mean a reduction
in CO2 emissions of 1.5 billion tons in five years by 2010.

This is an achievement that compares well with the efforts
of other countries.

At the UN climate change summit last September, President
Hu Jintao stated that China would take even further steps
to counter climate change. To follow up, the Chinese
government has announced its targets for 2020 based on 2005

They include:

- bringing down CO2 per unit of GDP by 40-45%,

- increasing the ratio of non-fossil energy to 15%,

- expanding forest coverage by 40 million hectares, that is
bigger than one and half times the size of United Kingdom.

We will make all these into compulsory and verifiable
targets, within the framework of our domestic development
program. I hope you will appreciate that achieving these
targets and further reducing emission will get increasingly

Let me elaborate on that point. We have already closed down
many of the old and high energy consuming factories, That
is to say, the easier part is done.

Between 1990 to 2005, the per unit GDP energy consumption
came down by 47% and between 2005 to 2010 it will again
come down by 20%. The next will be raising the energy
efficiency of the remaining plants. It's going to cost more
and involve more sacrifice to reduce further.

This is why investing in research and development is so
critical for us, as only innovation can help China to make
that leap. And this is why we are looking to developed
countries for technology transfer and capacity building.
According to the International Energy Agency, if China
fulfils its target for 2020, it will have reduced its
emissions of CO2 by 1 billion tons. That will be a great
achievement, given that we are a developing country and we
have equally pressing survival priorities.

If you would allow me, I'd like to expand on this point;
China may soon become the 2nd largest economy in the world.

Yet it remains a developing country. This is something that
many people often forget. China's per capita GDP has just
passed 3,000 US dollars. UK and US are 13 to 15 times that
of China. China is behind Jamaica and Namibia.

Now, let me ask you all a question: In which year in
history do you think Britain was at the same income level
China now is at? According to British economist Angus
Maddison, the answer is the year 1913.

In per capita GDP terms, China only ranks at 104th place in
the world. It might be a surprise to some of you that China
has 135 million people living under one dollar a day.

Sometimes even the most basic things that we take for
granted, like water, are beyond the reach of some Chinese

Take for example, in China's northwest, water is so scarce
that farmers in a village in Gansu province only take three
baths in their entire life, at birth, at marriage and at

When discussing climate change, we tend to talk mostly
about facts and figures, but we should not forget that,
there is also the human dimension. Imagine when electricity
reaches this Gansu village, which is what China has been
doing, bringing electricity to every village, not only are
the farmers able to drill deeper for water, but also their
children would be able to watch TV for the first time and
see the wonderful outside world. They of course will dream
about a better life and all the things that come with it.
Who are we to tell them, that they have no right to have
what we have? Who are we to tell them that they can't live
like the people in Shanghai or London they see on TV? Why
can't they have ipods, laptops and refrigerators, or even

This is the human dimension, and this is the challenge.
China's difficult mission is to enable all of its 1.3
billion people to have the opportunity to realize their
dreams, but to achieve it in an environmentally responsible

Now let's come back to the point about China being the
world's biggest CO2 emitter. If you look at the figures in
per capita terms, an average Chinese person's emission is
4.6 tons. An average American emits 20 tons and Britain 8.7
tons. You can hardly call China energy greedy, can you?

Yet, according to an FT survey, 63% of Americans believe
that China is not doing enough and that it should undertake
more emission reduction. It feels like a person taking 4
pieces of bread asking the person who got the first piece
of bread to go on diet.

Between 1750 and 2005, developed countries accounted for
80% of the world's CO2 emissions. Even today, with only 20%
of the world's population, developed countries pump more
than 55% of the total emissions into the atmosphere. So
when it comes to emissions, developed and developing
countries can't be compared like for like, not to be
painted in the same brush. This is why we attach so much
importance to the UN Framework Convention on Climate
Change, which set out the principle of common but
differentiated responsibilities.

This is ultimately about fairness and equal right to

The Copenhagen conference will commence in 5 days' time. It
will be a major milestone in the global effort to tackle
climate change and the people of the world have high hopes
on its outcome. For Copenhagen to be successful, China
believes several things need to happen.

First, developed countries should undertake to achieve
substantial emission reduction targets for the second
commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. Countries that
have not signed up to the Kyoto Protocol should formulate
similar reduction targets.

Second, effective mechanisms should be set up to ensure
that developed countries provide financial and
technological support to developing countries.

Third, developing country should also adopt mitigation
measures according to their national conditions, within the
framework of sustainable development and with financial and
technological support from the developed countries.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will attend the conference.

China is willing to play a constructive role in bringing
the negotiations to a successful conclusion. We look
forward to close cooperation with the UK and the rest of
the world in this process.

All in all, climate change is a global challenge, which can
only be resolved through global cooperation. As a mother, I
do hope my daughter and the future generations will breathe
clean air and live in a good environment. So countries
should work together as partners to make sure that our
children inherit a better world.

Thank you.

Friday, 18 December 2009


Africa is getting a better deal from Beijing

By David Pilling
Financial Times

A few years ago, Lukas Lundin, a mining executive, rode his
motorbike 8,000 miles from Cairo to Cape Town. His journey,
which took just five weeks, meandered through 10 countries,
including Sudan, Ethiopia, Malawi, Zambia and Botswana. He
was amazed to discover that 85 per cent of the roads he
travelled were tarred and of high quality. Many had been
built by Chinese companies.

That was 2005. Since then, China’s interest in Africa has
intensified. In November 2006, Beijing hosted a lavish
Sino-African summit at which it promised more than 40 of
the continent’s leaders a new era of co-operation. Giant
elephants and giraffes appeared on hoardings across the
capital to mark the occasion.

Beijing has offered more than long-necked symbolism. In
2006 alone, it signed trade deals with African countries
worth $60bn. Investments, which often include a
resources-for-infrastructure element, have poured in thick
and fast. China’s stock of foreign direct investment has
shot well past $120bn (€81bn, £74bn). In 2006, Angola
temporarily overtook Saudi Arabia as China’s main supplier
of oil, and Africa now accounts for nearly 30 per cent of
China’s oil imports.

Nor is China’s interest limited to oil and minerals. In
2007, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the biggest
bank in the world by deposits, paid $5.6bn for a fifth of
South Africa’s Standard Bank. Only last month, at yet
another Sino-African jamboree, this one in Egypt, Beijing
pledged $10bn of new low-cost loans to Africa. It also
promised to eliminate tariffs on 60 per cent of exports and
to forgive the debt of several countries. Trade between
Africa and China has already risen spectacularly: last
year, it jumped 45 per cent to $107bn, a tenfold increase
over 2000.

Beijing’s engagement with Africa has caused much
hand-wringing. Western donors decry Beijing’s supposedly
scruples-free approach to investing in countries such as
Sudan. In some African countries, too, China’s growing
shadow has provoked anger. Nigerian radicals likened an
attempt by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation
(CNOOC) to secure 6bn barrels of oil to being attacked by

Such objections are overdone. They are often disingenuous.
China is no philanthropist, but its rise may still
represent Africa’s best hope of escaping poverty. In the
eight years to 2007, before the financial crisis, African
countries were growing, on average, by more than 4 per cent
a year, far higher than previously. That was thanks partly
to better economic management, debt relief and increased
capital flows (some from China), but also to the higher
commodity prices driven by Chinese demand. Dambisa Moyo,
the Zambian economist who riled western donors with her
book Dead Aid, says: “China’s African role is wider, more
sophisticated and more businesslike than any other
country’s at any time in the postwar period.”

Much of the criticism of China’s influence rings hollow. As
Chinese – and Japanese – officials point out, the west’s
record is less than exemplary. European contact with Africa
can best be summed up as decades of naked rapaciousness
followed by a spectacularly unsuccessful attempt to make
amends. During the cold war western governments supported
dictators and kleptomaniacs across the continent, from
President Mobutu Sese Seko of what was then Zaire to
Uganda’s murderous British-trained Idi Amin. More recently,
in the name of conditionality, benefactors have rammed
frequently disastrous economic fads down the throats of
hapless recipients. With donors like that, who needs

China’s pragmatism may produce better results. First, an
emphasis on infrastructure means that, even if deals are
corroded by corruption, at least the recipient country ends
up with a road, port or hospital. (OK, or perhaps a soccer
stadium.) Much Asian growth, including that of China
itself, was predicated on infrastructure. Officials in
Tokyo often contrast Japan’s own business-oriented approach
to south-east Asia – where countries such as Thailand,
Malaysia and Indonesia benefited greatly from Japanese
trade and investment – with dubious development strategies
pushed by the west in Africa.

Second, China’s approach is built on trade. Ms Moyo argues
that genuine business opportunity is more likely to
catalyse development than government-to-government aid that
is prone to being siphoned off. Robert Zoellick, president
of the World Bank, told the FT there was Chinese interest
in helping to create low-cost manufacturing bases in

Third, and crucially, China is not alone in seeking
opportunities on the continent. As well as the west, India,
Brazil and Russia are also vying for business. That ought
to give resource-rich African countries the ability to
haggle for better terms, though of course there is no
guarantee that increased funds will not simply line bigger

It would be wrong to be wide-eyed about China’s
investments. Some Chinese businesses are rightly condemned
for lax safety standards and for shunning African labour.
Critics are doubtless right that Chinese money has helped
prop up unscrupulous regimes in Khartoum and Harare. Yet
China is hardly alone in dealing with thieves and villains.
Whatever its side-effects, a scramble to invest in Africa
has got to be better than the European precedent; a
scramble to carve it up.



China reels under a barrage of criticism

By Antoaneta Bezlova
Asia Times Online

BEIJING - China is not happy. This is how one of the
Chinese state-sanctioned newspapers summed up Beijing's
feelings about the week spent negotiating on climate change
in the Danish capital, Copenhagen.

After a very public showdown with the United States in the
early days of the global climate talks, China found itself
attacked by smaller developing countries for benefiting
more than anyone else from carbon credit funding. And as
the Friday deadline for a deal approaches, Beijing has been
seen deflecting the accusation that it was the stumbling
block to reaching a deal.

Describing the fighting camps in Copenhagen in terms
borrowed from the famous Art of War by ancient Chinese
philosopher Sun Tzu, the China Times newspaper said
Beijing's gloom about the talks was growing and there was
no sign of any "ceasefire" in sight.

The ongoing United Nations climate change conference, which
began on December 7, is now in its final phase. Within
government circles and environmental lobbies alike, there
is clear awareness of the importance of China's role in
reaching an agreement.

"This is the first time for China to work on green
cooperation internationally," says Hu Angang, prominent
economist and campaigner for low-carbon future. "Beijing
knows that if we succeed, then the world succeeds; if China
fails, then the world fails."

The talks have reached an impasse due to long-standing
rifts between rich and poor countries, and a fresh division
that has emerged among developing countries. China has
featured prominently in both standoffs and Beijing appears
worried that it is becoming a target of criticism over the

"People will say 'if there is no deal, China is to blame',"
Deputy Foreign Minister He Yafei said in an interview with
the Financial Times published this week. "This is a trick
played by developed countries. They have to look at their
own position and can't use China as an excuse. China will
not be an obstacle [to a deal]."

On Tuesday, China accused developed countries of
backsliding on what it said were their obligations to fight
climate change and warned that climate negotiations had
entered a critical stage.

In sharp comments made at a press briefing in Beijing, a
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, said there had been
"some regression" on the part of developed countries on
their position regarding financial support. The change in
their position "will hamper the Copenhagen conference", she

China and the US - the world's two largest carbon polluters
- have waged a war of words at Copenhagen. They have
clashed on key issues such as how to share out the burden
of slashing greenhouse gases (GHGs) and whether the United
States owes developing countries a "climate debt".

Beijing says Western nations have built their prosperity on
fossil fuels and need to shoulder the responsibility for
reducing the growth of global GHG emissions. The
International Atomic Agency - an intergovernmental forum on
nuclear energy - however, projects that nearly all the
growth in those gases over the next two decades will come
from emerging economies and half of it from China.

The US has rejected the idea of "climate reparations" and
questioned the need for China - now the fastest-growing
economy in the world - to receive a portion of the rich
nations' funding to help developing countries mitigate
climate change.

"I don't envision public funds - certainly not from the
United States - going to China," Todd Stern, the chief US
climate negotiator, told a press briefing in Copenhagen
last week. While poorer developing countries still needed
Western help to nurture clean-energy technologies, this was
no longer the case with China, he argued.

China has vowed to reduce carbon emissions per unit of
gross domestic product by 40% to 45% by 2020, but experts
say, given economic growth projections, its emissions could
still double compared to 2005 levels.

The country has appeared in Copenhagen championing the
interests of the developing nations but it has faced rows
among its own lobby. Dozens of the poorest countries led by
the tiny Pacific island of Tuvalu have called for mandatory
caps on greenhouse gases for major emerging economies such
as China starting in 2013.

China has been consistently refusing binding emissions caps
for fears it would hurt its spectacular economic rise. It
reiterated this position in Copenhagen. But in a gesture
aimed at mending relations with its underdeveloped allies,
Beijing hinted it was willing to give up its share of
funding provided by rich nations to help poorer countries
tackle climate change.

"Financial resources for the efforts of developing
countries [to combat climate change are] a legal
obligation. That does not mean China will take a share
-probably not. We do not expect money will flow from the
US, Britain and others to China," He Yafei told the
Financial Times.

Analysts believe the statement was a sign of Beijing's
unease over the fragile unity of developing countries and
the implications of the row for the progress of the talks.

"The climate talks will display China's new world view,"
insists Qing Hong, researcher with the Center for China and
Globalization, a Beijing-based think-tank.

"Contrary to some arguments, China is not always adhering
only to its own national interests. Quite the opposite,
China will show the international community that in the
case of climate change its considerations transcend its
national boundaries," he says.

(Inter Press Service)