Steve Chapman: Why China Is Cooperating on Climate Change


Xi Jinping
Public Domain

Americans like to keep the world simple, dividing important countries into two groups: valued allies and hateful enemies. That approach suffices when we're talking about South Korea and North Korea. But it doesn't work well when it comes to China.

Many people see it as a giant, looming menace. The truth is more complicated. With China, we have a worrisome rival and an indispensable partner, writes Steve Chapman.

That latter status has never been clearer than today, after a summit that produced several new accords between Washington and Beijing. The most important and surprising was an agreement to curb emissions of greenhouse gases that cause global warming. It is, in the words of a former Obama administration official, "the most important bilateral climate announcement ever."

Life and U.S. foreign policy would be simpler if China were as hostile and duplicitous as some Americans assume. But they wouldn't be easier, according to Chapman.