Will the U.S. turn a blind eye to genocide in China, its trade barriers and intellectual property theft, and its increasingly aggressive foreign policy, in order to get China's government to make useless noises about fighting climate change?
Lawmakers are worried about the Biden administration doing that. For example, they objected to recent remarks made by John Kerry, President Biden’s special climate envoy, about potentially reaching a climate deal with China — saying he trivialized the widespread human rights abuses committed by China's communist government. Kerry told an interviewer:
We have differences on economic rules, on cyber. We have other differences on human rights, geostrategic interests, but those differences do not have to get in the way of something that is as critical as dealing with climate.
Recently, Kerry traveled to Shanghai to meet with Chinese officials, after which the two countries released a joint statement vowing to tackle the climate crisis together with “seriousness and urgency.”
But such rhetoric is meaningless on China's part. China has declared its commitment to fighting climate change in the past, such as in ratifying the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. But that rhetoric about fighting climate change did not result in China actually cutting its emissions, which continued to rise rapidly. Indeed, China's greenhouse gas emissions have more than tripled over the last 30 years. China's greenhouse gas emissions now exceed those of the United States and every developed nation combined, according to research cited by CNBC. China accounts for 27% of total global emissions. The United States accounts for only 11%.
Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) called Kerry's comments “pathetic,” slamming the Biden administration’s climate policy as giving China an economic edge and weakening the United States’ standing, reported the New York Post.
“It is pathetic John Kerry is excusing the Chinese Communist Party’s disgusting enslavement and murder of the Uighurs to make this slimy climate arrangement possible,” he said.
The CCP are cheaters who never play by the rules, that is a fact. Our country should not get involved in a one-sided, disastrous climate plan that we know the CCP won’t follow and will weaken any economic leverage we have with China.
The "enslavement and murder of the Uighurs" Congressman Burchett referenced involves an ethnic minority group who live in northwest China. There, as many as three million members of ethnic minority groups have been imprisoned in grim concentration camps. Most of them are Uighurs, the largest minority group in China’s Xinjiang province. Torture is widespread in the concentration camps, and thousands have died in them from torture and physical abuse.
Promises and commitments often matter little to China's communist government. It flouts even binding treaties it signs, such as the Convention Against Torture.
Even Biden supporters worry about the Biden administration's eagerness to make concessions to China in exchange for empty promises about climate change that will soon be broken. The outspoken Never Trump columnist Gary Kasparov laments that Biden climate envoy John Kerry now has "enough influence to give up real lives and real concessions to dictatorships for climate fantasies they will never honor." Kasparov says that he "used to joke that if you left Kerry and [Russian foreign minister] Lavrov together in a room long enough, Kerry would give Alaska back to Russia. Now he's eager to legitimize [Vladimir] Putin & [Chinese dictator] Xi Jinping for a handful of magic climate beans so he can boast of more brilliant dealmaking."
Even if China were to sign a new climate-change treaty, it would likely flout it. Consider what China's communist government did after signing the United Nations Convention Against Torture in 1988. It did not stop torturing its citizens.
Instead, it massively stepped up torture and repression instead. For example, it targeted members of a peaceful Buddhist group known as Falun Gong. Thousands of Falun Gong members were later tortured to death or had their organs forcibly extracted before they were killed, as Caylan Ford chronicled at Arc Digital.
As Ford noted, in China,
over a million members of a religious minority have been detained without trial in reeducation camps. When they’re not performing forced labor and making goods for export, they are tortured, beaten, shocked with electric batons, and put through coercive ideological “transformation.” Authorities have been told to use any means necessary to make their victims recant their faith in a world-transcendent order, and swear fealty to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)…… There is now abundant evidence that China’s organ transplant industry has been supplied, in part, by the on-demand killing of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience….An independent tribunal of experts, headed by United Nations war crimes prosecutor Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, recently found beyond a reasonable doubt that forced organ harvesting has occurred on a substantial scale — likely peaking at tens of thousands of victims per year — with the knowledge and endorsement of Chinese state actors.
President Biden has minimized the cultural genocide, concentration camps, and mass killings committed by China's government by attributing them to different cultural norms.
“Culturally, there are different norms in each country and their leaders are expected to follow,” said Biden on Feb. 18. As Fox News notes, Biden was discussing “human rights atrocities carried out against the Uyghur populations in Western China." A former National Security Advisor called Biden’s remarks “bigotry masquerading as cultural sensitivity.”
Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law. He also once worked in the Education Department.