China under Xi Jinping is using all the methods at its disposal to make sure that it is able to game the world. Even the Chinese Communist Party is making all sorts of efforts to make sure that it is able to gain the diplomatic as well as administrative sovereignty of the nations it is investing in. To put it in the layman’s language, while the whole world is dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic, China under Xi Jinping is busy furthering its debt-trap diplomacy. In line with this, it has agreed to reduce its carbon emissions, but it is heavily financing coal plants around the world.
In January, the Renewables and Environmental Regulatory Institute (RERI), a Serbian environmental NGO, filed a lawsuit against the state-owned national electricity company EPS for exposing Serbians to harmful pollution from coal power plants. Despite Beijing’s announced goal of reducing carbon emissions, China will continue to finance multibillion-dollar coal plants in developing countries, a top climate official said Tuesday. According to the UK-based monitor CarbonBrief, China opened three-quarters of the world’s newly financed coal plants in 2020 and accounted for more than 80% of newly announced coal power projects.
However, at home, President Xi Jinping has promised to wean China off coal, with a peak carbon emissions deadline of 2030, and to achieve carbon neutrality thirty years later. During the Earth Day Summit, Xi Jinping had made China’s position clear and it came as a surprise for the Biden administration.
The Biden administration had imagined that with its re-entry into the international efforts to counter Climate change, it would be able to convince China to double down on its proclaimed targets this time around if it is sufficiently pleased. However, as the climate summit called by Joe Biden ended, the Chinese Communist Party has not budged an inch when it comes to its commitments. While Joe Biden has tried to re-invigorate the climate action intensity and expected the placation to have a positive impact on the commitments by CCP, Xi Jinping has thrown Biden’s climate goals in the bin.
The paper dragon is literally celebrating the fact that the Biden administration looks confused in terms of its China policy. In its editorial titled, “US sends mixed signals on China policy”, Global Times claimed that “Biden administration’s tough talk is also motivated by domestic political interests”. Yet, the CCP mouthpiece recognised that the Biden administration is “still hoping for possible cooperation in more sectors with the world’s second-largest economy.” All of this has made China all the more confident in not toeing the line which Joe Biden is expecting it too, as it expects a further kowtow from the Biden administration going ahead.
While it had made it clear that China will not give any more lofty promises regarding the climate crisis and while it makes efforts to move towards its ascertained goals, it is increasing the amount of money it is spending on the coal-fuelled thermal projects around the world. “We cannot simply say that we’ll stop supporting coal-fired electricity plants in developing countries,” Li Gao, head of the climate change office at the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, told reporters, “Combating climate change is also about letting people in developing countries live good lives.”
Echoing Xi’s comments at a recent climate summit hosted by US President Joe Biden, Li said poorer nations still need coal to power their economies. “This is wholly in response to (foreign countries’) actual needs, and we use very high standards (to build the plants),” he said. China has shown its true colours as on one hand it pledges to reduce carbon emissions, but on the other hand, it is increasing the net emission by supporting thermal power plants among other smaller countries.