China’s Foreign Ministry on Friday announced it was suspending talks with the U.S. on climate policies due to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan earlier this week. China claims sovereignty over the self-governing island and perceives the visit by the U.S. a threat to stability in the region. In addition to snubbing climate talks with U.S. Special Presidential Envoy John Kerry, China also slapped sanctions on Nancy Pelosi and her family meant to hurt her personal finances.
In an announcement carried on CCTV in China, a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry said, “In disregard of China’s grave concerns and firm opposition, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi insisted on visiting China’s Taiwan region. This constitutes a gross interference in China’s internal affairs.” The spokesperson added, “It gravely undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, seriously tramples on the one-China principle, and severely threatens peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait…In response to Pelosi’s egregious provocation, China decides to adopt sanctions on Pelosi and her immediate family members in accordance with relevant laws of the People’s Republic of China.”
The move to stop talks between the Earth’s two top greenhouse gas emitters comes three months before a United Nations summit on global warming and climate change; the political repercussions of House Speaker Pelosi’s visit could not only eliminate any chance of any agreements being made for that event, but could also shelve, if not destroy, the Paris Climate Accord.
On June 1, then-President Trump removed America from the Paris Climate Accord. “As President, I can put no other consideration before the wellbeing of American citizens,” Trump said, addressing reporters at the White House Rose Garden. “The Paris Climate Accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers — who I love — and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production. Thus, as of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris Accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country. This includes ending the implementation of the nationally determined contribution and, very importantly, the Green Climate Fund which is costing the United States a vast fortune. Compliance with the terms of the Paris Accord and the onerous energy restrictions it has placed on the United States could cost America as much as 2.7 million lost jobs by 2025 according to the National Economic Research Associates. This includes 440,000 fewer manufacturing jobs — not what we need — believe me, this is not what we need — including automobile jobs, and the further decimation of vital American industries on which countless communities rely.”
Fulfilling a campaign promise, President Joe Biden re-entered the accord on his first day in office. In a brief statement shared with the press, the President said, ” I, Joseph R. Biden Jr., President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the Paris Agreement, done at Paris on December 12, 2015, do hereby accept the said Agreement and every article and clause thereof on behalf of the United States of America.”
The Paris Agreement, often referred to as the Paris Accords or the Paris Climate Accords, is an international treaty on climate change, adopted in 2015. It covers climate change mitigation, adaptation, and finance. Under the Paris agreement, about 200 nations promised to set goals to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, with each nation deciding for itself what its goal will be. The hope is that those reductions, when looked at cumulatively, would limit global temperature increases to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. However, science has yet to prove a specific correlation between the amount of greenhouse gas that links to temperatures going up or down, experts aren’t sure if the Paris Agreement will help the environment or simply raise energy and transportation costs.
With China’s announcement today, people may never know what impacts the Agreement may have; with tensions rising between the U.S. and China, it’s possible the largest emitter of air pollution and greenhouse gas may opt to not participate in any international treaty that regulates such emissions. Other agreements are also in jeopardy, including COP26 United Nation Climate Change agreements made last year to restrict methane emissions.
China didn’t specify what additional sanctions they’re making to House Speaker Pelosi and her immediate family, but previous measures have restricted individuals from entering China, Hong Kong or Macau, or doing any business there. According to financial disclosure documents required to be filed by public officials, House Speaker Pelosi and her husband have an investment worth $5-25 million in an investment firm called Matthews International Capital Management, which specializes in Asian investments. That investment earned the Pelosi’s between $100,000 and $1,000,000 in income last year; any sanctions applied to her family could hurt her personal finances with such exposure in Asia.
In addition to suspending climate talks and sanctioning House Speaker Pelosi, China announced other ways it is retaliating for the unwanted visit. China said they would cease communications with the U.S. on other issues, including military concerns, immigration, ongoing criminal investigations, and transnational crime. China is also ramping up military action around Taiwan; today, 49 Chinese aircraft crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, making a new record for daily air incursions.
White House spokesman John Kirby today condemned the decision to end important dialogue with the United States as “irresponsible.” “These lines of communication are important for helping to reduce miscalculation and misperception,” Biden administration national security spokesperson John Kirby said at a press briefing. By cutting off the climate dialogue specifically, Kirby said, China is “not just punishing themselves with this act. They’re punishing the world.”