China / Across America

Orville Schell: Climate change can aid relations

By AI Heping in New York (China Daily USA) Updated: 2016-01-04 11:22

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 interest are aligned: climate change," he says in the opinion article titled Cooperation with China.

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.

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