Chen Weihua

No China bashing, all eyes on cooperation

By Chen Weihua (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-11-17 07:52

No China bashing, all eyes on cooperation

The seminar on climate change with a focus on China held at the Asia Society in New York last week was quite a surprise. With top US experts on climate change and several prominent scholars on China, such as Orville Schell, Jerome Cohen, Barbara Finamore and Andrew Nathan in attendance, I was expecting an onslaught on China.

There should be no fuss about an opinion by an academic. Like my job as a journalist is to report facts, their job is to make insightful analysis and critique.

However, the China bashing I had experienced at some earlier seminars was often way off the mark. Criticism was based on poor understanding of the situation or ideological inclination or stereotyped Cold War mentality, instead of solid facts and an overall picture of ground reality.

So when Barbara Finamore, founder and director of the China Program of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Orville Schell, director of the Center on US-China Relations at the Asia Society and former dean of the UC Berkeley Journalism School, repeatedly mentioned China's progress on clean energy and carbon reduction, I was amazed.

China was credited for its strong efforts in fighting climate change, with government efforts to increase energy efficiency of power plants, industries, buildings and equipment.

President Hu Jintao's pledge at the UN climate change conference in September that China will reduce its carbon intensity by a significant margin between 2005 and 2020 was highlighted as strong encouragement, as was China's remarkable progress made under the current Five-Year Plan to reduce energy intensity by 20 percent between 2006 and 2010.

Detailed progress cited, such as evaluating local government officials for their performance on carbon reductions and progress in renewable energies such as solar and wind in various Chinese regions, should have impressed seminar participants.

To be honest, not many in China are probably aware of the progress in their own country within the last few years. And I know problems are still huge despite the efforts and achievements.

The United States took more heat at the seminar, criticized for a lack of leadership. While the US House of Representatives approval of a climate change bill was applauded, the strong resistance in the US Senate was blasted as a huge disappointment.

The recent protest in the US against a Chinese wind-turbine company's move to supply equipment to one of the largest wind-farm developments in West Texas was also dismissed as based on poor rationale.

That said, these brilliant researchers and academics did not sit down to cheer progress, whether for China, the US or Europe. They are pinning high hopes on the historic summit between US President Barack Obama - who is currently on a China tour - and President Hu Jintao ahead of the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in December. Pushing for collaboration between the US and China was the key message of the seminar.

The Asia Society, in partnership with the Center for American Progress and Monitor Group, has recently released a road map for US-China collaboration on carbon capture and sequestration. The Natural Resources Defense Council, meanwhile, has also released reports and is expected to release more on special carbon capture projects in China.

As Chinese Ambassador to the US Zhou Wenzhong told me and several other reporters in Washington DC a week ago that the Sino-US relationship is now characterized by extensive cooperation, with mechanisms for cooperation and dialogue in almost every field.

That also seemed to be the tone of the seminar at the Asia Society. The China bashing in the past has given way to exploring how China and the US can work together to build a better world by slowing global climate change.


(China Daily 11/17/2009 page8)