Following the Group of 20 summit, the Government of China is intending to focus on climate change cooperation with United States at the meeting with the United States leader.
Beijing and Washington are looking to announce their ratification of the Paris climate change accord the day before the bilateral meeting, a diplomatic insider said. Such a step by the world’s two largest greenhouse-gas emitters would mark significant progress toward the goal of having the agreement take effect this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will likely use the summit as a platform to urge other signatories to follow suit.
In China, which had aimed to get the Paris accord ratified before the G-20 summit starting Sunday to begin with, the agreement is now before the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. Beijing plans to stress the importance of U.S.-China cooperation in its appeal to the international community.
This topic is also important for Obama, who reached a climate change deal with Xi at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in 2014. He likely hopes to make headway on the issue at his final G-20 summit before his term ends in January.
Climate change is the last hope for collaboration between the U.S. and China, a diplomatic source in Beijing said. The two sides are unlikely to agree on much else.
China has hardened its stance against a missile defense system that the U.S. plans to install in South Korea to protect the country from the threat posed by North Korea. Beijing is expected to use the summit to push for Washington to retract its agreement with Seoul. Though both support denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, agreeing on what to do about it is a trickier matter.
And tensions are running high over Beijing’s maritime advances. Next month’s summit will be the first since an international arbitration tribunal denied Chinese claims in the South China Sea. Obama intends to call on Beijing to abide by the ruling and refrain from further militarization of the region. He is also expected to express concern about incursions by Chinese government vessels near the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands, which are claimed by China as the Diaoyu.
But Beijing has shown no signs of interest in compromise. With the Communist Party preparing to select new leadership at the party congress to be held in fall 2017, Xi will likely keep up his hawkish foreign policy stance to ensure he retains his grip on power after the reshuffle.