Orville Schell: Cli­mate change can aid re­la­tions

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - By AI HEPING in New York

The US and China should take the “com­mon foe’’ of cli­mate change to im­prove re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries, says long­time China hand Orville Schell.

Writ­ing in the Jan 2-3 week­end edi­tion of The Wall Street Jour­nal, Schell says “the level of mis­trust be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Beijing is very high th­ese days”.

“There is po­ten­tially one bright spot in this fraught tableau, a place where both na­tional in­tere s t are aligned: cli­mate change,’’ he says in the opin­ion ar­ti­cle ti­tled Co­op­er­a­tionwith­China.

Cli­mate change is “ex­actly the kind of com­mon foe that, de­spite years of hos­til­ity, brought Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger to­gether with Mao Ze­dong and Zhou En­lai in 1972 to counter the Soviet Union’,’ writes Schell, the Arthur Ross di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter on US-China Re­la­tions at the Asia So­ci­ety.

“Cli­mate change pro­vides an­other such open­ing, and both sides should ex­ploit it by ap­point­ing spe­cial am­bas­sadors and ini­ti­at­ing an ac­tive round of shut­tle diplo­macy,’’ he says.

“A suc­cess would not only help to con­front global warm­ing but could also bring a new and much needed sta­bil­ity to Sino-US re­la­tions,’’ Schell says.

Both China and the US played an im­por­tant role in ral­ly­ing the na­tions to reach a fi­nal agree­ment at the United Na­tions Cli­mate Con­fer­ence in Paris in De­cem­ber. US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry have spo­ken pos­i­tively about China’s role.

Lead­ers of the two coun­tries agreed to am­bi­tious cli­mate change and emis­sion-re­duc­tion mea­sures in Novem­ber 2014 dur­ing Obama’s visit to Beijing and in Septem­ber 2015 dur­ing Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s state visit to the US. Th­ese mea­sures by the world’s two largest emit­ters have been re­garded as mo­ti­vat­ing other na­tions, es­pe­cially the de­vel­op­ing na­tions, to com­mit to am­bi­tious tar­gets.

Orville Schell

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