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China, US hail progress in climate talks

BEIJING, China, November 11 ------ China hailed climate talks with the United States as a success, with the US climate envoy saying the two powers had reached common ground on a number of issues.

The talks in California between top officials come ahead of a meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping next week, where the leaders are seeking to improve ties after years of frosty relations. Beijing's Ministry of Ecology and Environment said that the meetings between US climate envoy John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua "ended successfully" on Wednesday. The two sides "engaged in a comprehensive, in-depth exchange of views", it said, adding they "achieved positive results on developing bilateral climate change cooperation and action".

Kerry said that he had held "comprehensive and constructive discussions with the PRC over five days", referring to China by its official name. "We reached common ground on a number of issues that we expect will prove productive in these critical weeks ahead of COP28," he said in a statement.

Countries will gather in the United Arab Emirates at the end of the month for the COP28 summit aimed at building consensus for limiting global warming. Beijing and Washington have agreed to "jointly push for the success" of COP28, China's environment ministry said. That success will hinge on agreement between the United States and China, the world's two largest greenhouse gas emitters. Beijing and Washington are working to patch up relations that sank to some of their deepest lows in recent years over issues including trade, human rights and national security. Washington sent top officials to Beijing this year in a bid to reestablish high-level dialogue. And this week Chinese Vice President Han Zheng said his country was open to talks with the United States at "all levels". Neither the United States nor China have officially confirmed the upcoming Biden-Xi talks. But sources said Wednesday that the two sides had made arrangements to hold the meeting on November 15 on the sidelines of next week's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, which the United States is hosting. Ahead of that summit, Kerry will visit Singapore from November 10 to 12 "to advance US objectives on climate and clean energy" and speak at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum, the State Department said. "Secretary Kerry will hold meetings with the Prime Minister and ministers to discuss efforts under the US-Singapore Climate Partnership," it said.

Not smooth

Asked to confirm whether the Biden-Xi meeting would go ahead, China's foreign ministry warned Wednesday that the "road to San Francisco is not smooth, and we cannot be on autopilot". "Both sides must... truly implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state, eliminate interference and overcome obstacles, enhance consensus and accumulate results," it said, alluding to a meeting between Xi and Biden in Indonesia last year -- the last time they met.

Biden and Xi both spoke positively about those talks, saying they were looking for ways to avoid conflict. And the Chinese leader last month stressed that "we have 1,000 reasons to improve China-US relations, but not one reason to ruin them". China has been outraged by growing US pressure to contain it globally across a range of sectors. This includes US restrictions on high-tech chips, which Washington fears Beijing will put to military use. Relations have also soured over Taiwan, the self-ruled democracy that Beijing claims and has not ruled out taking by force. But climate has long been seen as an area where the two can find common ground.

Kerry visited Beijing in July after a long break in bilateral climate talks, insisting the United States was not seeking to dictate cooperation terms to China. "There's no politics or ideology in what we're doing," he said. The veteran politician and diplomat said instead there was "mutual alarm" between the US and Chinese sides at the current climate situation.



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