President Obama's deal with China to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions may go down as one of his lasting legacies once everything is said and done with his Administration. The deal, which was announced at a joint press conference, set far reaching goals of reducing carbon emissions that surprised most everyone over how much the two countries agreed to cut.
I recently discussed US-China relations with a Chinese associate of mine, her name is Ping Chen (her name has been changed, as per her request.). I wanted to speak with someone who was well traveled and well versed in not only Chinese politics and news, but the news and politics of other major countries as well.
For China, the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter, the global climate accord reached in Paris marked a huge step toward greener growth that safeguards its sovereignty while falling short on funding for cleaner energy. Xie Zhenhua, Beijing's senior climate change envoy, said he welcomed what he described as a flawed agreement, echoing a similar summation from U.S. President Barack Obama.
The United States has agreed with Singapore on a first deployment of the U.S. P8 Poseidon spy plane in Singapore this month, in a fresh response to China over its pursuit of territorial claims in the South China Sea. China, which is at odds with Washington over the South China Sea, said on Tuesday the move was aimed at militarizing the region.
The last time the leaders of China's Communist Party and the Kuomintang met, they were between two wars: one war against the Japanese Empire, which had just surrendered, and another war, on pause, against each other. It was August 1945 in the Chinese city of Chongqing, China's wartime capital far inland from Beijing. The Communist Party and the Kuomintang-led Chinese government had paused their civil war in 1937 to join forces against the Japanese invaders, and their 1945 meeting was a toast to their victory, but it also heralded a return to their civil war.
After more than 35 years, China has rescinded its law banning many families from having more than one child; all of them will now be allowed to have two. The shift comes as China faces low fertility rates and an aging trend in its population. "China will allow all couples to have two children, abandoning its decades-long one-child policy, according to a communique issued Thursday by the Communist Party of China," the state-run Xinhua news agency reports.
On Monday night, the American missile destroyer Lassen sailed within 12 miles of a Chinese-built artificial island called Subi Reef, in the South China Sea. The goal, according to the US, was to challenge China's claims over what are generally understood to be international waters. China was furious. A spokesperson said the Lassen "illegally entered" the waters and "threatened China’s sovereignty and security interests." On Tuesday, China sent two ships — the missile destroyer Lanzhou and patrol boat Taizhou — to the area and told the American ship to get out. The Americans ignored them.
Most of the commentary about Chinese President Xi Jinping’s upcoming state visit is wrong, or at least out of date. Yes, there are many disagreements between the U.S. and an increasingly assertive China. But no, the Obama administration does not have to find “common ground” and “manage the differences,” the current mantra in D.C. Moreover, the White House can ignore Peking University’s oft-quoted Zhu Feng, who told the Associated Press that “both sides need to make concessions.” Instead, Washington should be looking to accomplish all its goals, to put the relationship on America’s terms.
Even by the standards of military parades, Chinese leaders needed something big. They had chosen a name for a national celebration, on Thursday, that necessitated an extravaganza: “The Commemoration of the Seventieth Anniversary of Victory of the Chinese People’s Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and World Anti-Fascist War.” Beijing quantified the arrangements precisely: twelve thousand troops; five hundred weapons’ systems; two hundred aircraft; thirty heads of state or government; a red carpet on Tiananmen Square that was a hundred and twenty-one steps long, one step for each of the years since the first shot was fired in the wars with Japan.
President Xi Jinping in his opening speech paid tribute to "the Chinese people who unwaveringly fought hard and defeated aggression" from Japan. He also said the People's Liberation Army would be cut by 300,000 personnel, a move expected to be finished by 2017.
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