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Keynote Speech by Consul General Zhang Ping at Long Beach-Qingdao Association Virtual Annual Luncheon
(December 10, virtual meeting)
2021-12-11 07:15

It is always a great pleasure to attend LBQA events and I am so pleased to join our friends today at LBQA annual luncheon and talk about China-U.S. cooperation on climate change and trade. 

Climate change is a common challenge facing mankind. It bears the well-being of our future generations. With the increase of world temperatures and more irregular weather patterns, there is no doubt that climate change is real. We see a looming crisis is coming toward us, which gives us a sense of urgency to address this challenge. It's time for the international community to take concerted actions. 

China upholds the concept of a community of life for mankind and nature, and has made building a Beautiful China a major objective in fully building a modern socialist country. China has adopted green and low carbon growth as an important part of its new development paradigm. We have put a high priority on ecological conservation and environmental protection and made unprecedented efforts to promote eco-civilization. Through years of hard work, the country's ecological system and environment have seen remarkable improvement.

In 2020, China's carbon emission intensity was 48.4 percent lower than that in 2005, which means China had more than fulfilled its commitment of achieving a 40-45 percent reduction in carbon intensity from the 2005 level by 2020. The drop in carbon intensity translates to a total reduction of about 5.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Last year, China's electric power generated by non-fossil energy has reached more than one-third of the total electricity consumption. China has led the world in photovoltaic capacity additions for eight consecutive years. The number of new energy vehicles has reached 6 million in total. Here we have BYD who is leading the industry in China as well as in the world with its entrepreneurship and advanced technologies.

China has taken an active part in global climate governance to assume its international responsibilities in line with its national conditions. China has announced that it will strive to reach the peak of carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. 

To achieve this goal, China will scale up its Nationally Determined Contributions by adopting more vigorous policies and measures. China is accelerating the formation of the policy system on carbon peaking and carbon neutrality. The Action Plan for Carbon Peaking before 2030 has been released. A series of implementation plans for specific industries and sectors and safeguard measures will come out in the near future. China has also pledged not to build new overseas coal power projects.

At the World Leaders Summit of COP 26, President Xi Jinping delivered a written speech, in which he put forward three important propositions: upholding multilateral consensus, focusing on concrete actions, and accelerating green transition, which has contributed Chinese solution to global climate governance and demonstrated China's sense of responsibility as a major country as well as its firm determination to work with the international community in addressing climate change.

As the largest developing country, China still faces multiple challenges in economic development and a huge task of improving people's living standards. As China's economy continues to grow, its energy demand will see a continuous increase. China will make the world's biggest cut in carbon emission intensity in the shortest time frame in history. To achieve carbon peak and carbon neutrality is a systematic project with unprecedented challenges and needs arduous efforts. But China means what it says. Once the promise is made, we will make sure it delivers.

Some people may say that China is now the world's biggest carbon emitter. Since China cares so much about the environment, why can't China do more on carbon reduction? 

This is because China is in a different stage of development and has different national conditions and capabilities. China is still the largest developing country in the world with a population of 1.4 billion. The issue of unbalanced and inadequate development still stands out. Its development needs are different as compared with developed countries. Meanwhile, the historical responsibilities for climate change are also different between developed and developing countries. The increase of China's carbon emission only started from the beginning of this century while western developed countries already had a 200-year history of carbon emission. The U.S. used to take the bulk of the global emission. Though China now has the biggest number, quite a percentage of the increase is due to the carbon emission transfer from western countries along with the economic globalization, which means China, by providing western countries with manufactured goods, is supporting a comfortable lifestyle at a cost of increased carbon emission. Even with the increase, China's per capita carbon emission is still less than half of that of the U.S. As a matter of fact, developed countries generally set a time frame of 40 to 70 years to move from carbon peaking to carbon neutrality while China only gives itself a much shorter time frame of 30 years. China is doing to the greatest extent within its capabilities.

We believe while global actions are needed, yet a fair and reasonable approach is essential. The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities is the cornerstone of global climate governance. Every country should be allowed to determine its contribution and does its part to the best of its ability, striking a balance between climate change response and livelihood protection. Developed countries need to shoulder more responsibility and honor their commitment to helping developing countries with financing and technology.

China and the U.S. share extensive common interests in climate change governance. Cooperation on climate change is a positive asset of China-U.S. relations. China-U.S. cooperation has played an important role in leading the international efforts on climate response. In 2015, China and the U.S. brought about the successful conclusion of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Since this year, the two countries' special envoys, following the consensus reached by the two heads of state during their phone conversations, have held two major face-to-face talks in Shanghai and Tianjin and engaged in intensive consultations in London and Glasgow.

As a result of joint efforts, the two sides released the China-U.S. Joint Glasgow Declaration on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s at COP 26, reaffirming the target of holding the global average temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and pledging to continue working together and with all parties to strengthen the implementation of the Paris Agreement. On the basis of the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and the respective capabilities as well as taking into account the respective national conditions, both countries will take enhanced climate action to effectively address the climate crisis. The two sides decided to take concrete actions and cooperation on reducing electricity waste, coal consumption, methane emissions and eliminating illegal deforestation. China will develop its national action plan on methane. The two sides also agreed to establish a working group on enhancing climate action in the 2020s. The Joint Declaration is a significant move to promote cooperation on climate change between the two countries and the multilateral process. 

China-U.S. sub-national cooperation can play an important role in promoting climate change cooperation between the two countries. China and the State of California established a clean technology partnership and carried out good cooperation in areas including climate change and clean energy. In May this year, a series of sub-national dialogues on climate change between China and the U.S. were held online, setting up a platform for the two countries' local governments to join hands in addressing climate change by sharing experiences and promoting cooperation. The South Coast Air Quality Management District is engaging with the Chinese side to explore opportunities for cooperation in environmental protection and pollution prevention and control in relation to maritime transportation. Under the framework of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Alliance, Shanghai, Guangzhou and other Chinese cities have participated in discussions with Los Angeles and other international cities on tackling climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

China-U.S. climate change cooperation cannot stand alone without a sound and stable China-U.S. relationship. It needs good conditions and the right atmosphere. Currently, the China-U.S. relationship is going through serious difficulties, which does not serve the fundamental interests of the two countries and peoples.

Not long ago, President Xi and President Biden held a virtual meeting. They have agreed that China and the U.S. should respect each other, coexist in peace, increase communication, handle differences constructively, prevent conflict, and strengthen cooperation. They also expressed their opposition to a "new Cold War" between China and the U.S. The meeting between the two heads of state provides direction and guidance for our relations and sends a powerful message to both countries and the world. 

At this critical juncture when China and the U.S. are trying to find the right way to get along with each other in the new era, it is important that our two countries work together to enhance exchanges and cooperation, jointly address regional and international issues as well as global challenges and, in the meantime, properly manage differences to avoid confrontation and conflict, so as to bring China-U.S. relations back to the right track of sound and steady development. 

Economic and trade cooperation has always been the anchor and propeller of China-U.S. relations, playing an important role in the healthy and stable development of bilateral relations, and bringing tangible benefits to our two peoples. Last year, the United States was China's third-largest trade partner in goods, the largest export market, and the sixth-largest source of imports, and China's second-largest service trade partner, second-largest service export market and source of imports.

This year, so far, the bilateral trade volume between China and the U.S. has reached approximately USD 700 billion, and the accumulated two-way investment has exceeded USD 250 billion. According to the 2021 District Export Report recently released by U.S.-China Business Council, the total U.S. goods exports to China in 2020 reached USD 123.1 billion, up by nearly 18%, while U.S. exports to other parts of the world dropped by 15% last year. China's economic growth has not only greatly boosted U.S. exports, but also supported nearly one million American jobs.

China has been California's largest trading partner and largest source of imports. California is the U.S. state that has the largest amount of investment from China, with a total amount of USD 36.79 billion by the end of 2020, creating more than 22,000 jobs. A large percentage of cargo volumes handled by the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles is related to China trade.

Meanwhile, it should be pointed out that there are still difficulties and obstacles in our economic and trade relations. The additional tariffs imposed on Chinese products by the previous administration have not been abolished, which harms the interests of not only Chinese exporters, but mostly the U.S. importers and consumers. Figures show that 92% of the increased tariffs are taken up by the U.S. downstream enterprises and consumers. In addition, the U.S. continues to suppress and sanction Chinese companies on the grounds of so-called "national security". At present, more than 900 Chinese entities and individuals have been put on different kinds of sanction lists and many Chinese companies and products have been banned from entering the U.S. market, including the product for climate change response--solar panels produced in Xinjiang. Such a trend, if not stopped, will inevitably cause serious damage to China-U.S. economic and trade cooperation.

China-U.S. economic and trade ties are win-win in nature. Trade issues should not be politicized. Decoupling and building walls would only undermine the global industrial chain and supply chain, and damage our cooperation and common interests. We call for the early abolition of the additional tariffs. 

China is fostering a new development paradigm, with domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other, and promoting high-quality development. It is estimated that China will import 2.5 trillion dollars worth of goods and services annually in the coming 15 years, its middle-income group will expand to 800 million by 2035. Looking into the future, China is set to become the biggest consumer market in the world. 

Last month, the Communist Party of China (CPC) held its 6th Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee. It comprehensively reviewed the major achievements and historical experience of the CPC in the past 100 years. As reiterated by the 6th Plenary Session, China will continue to comprehensively deepen reform and opening-up. We will further shorten the negative lists on foreign investment access, enable all-round opening-up of agriculture and manufacturing, open the telecommunications, health care and other service sectors wider, and implement a negative list for cross-border service trade nationwide. We will advance trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and take an active and open attitude in negotiations on the digital economy, trade and the environment, industrial subsidies and state-owned enterprises. 

We have full confidence that under the leadership of CPC, China will march firmly toward the goal of the Chinese nation's rejuvenation. China's economy will continue to grow and it will continue to push forward reform and opening up. The development of China will provide more opportunities to other countries, including the U.S. We welcome American companies to come on board and share the dividends of China's development.

Before I conclude my remarks, I wish to extend my season's greetings to everyone and express sincere thanks to LBQA for the many good jobs that you have done over the years in promoting friendship and cooperation between the two cities of Long Beach and Qingdao. The strong and robust sister city relationship, as well as the close partnership between the two cities' ports, have set a good example for China-U.S. sub-national exchanges and cooperation. I hope our friends, including those from the business community, will continue to play an active role to support a better China-U.S. relationship and make greater contributions to it. We look forward to working with you.  

Thank you.

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