China Invites Kerry To Visit For Climate Talks Despite Simmering Tensions

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China has invited special presidential climate envoy John Kerry to visit the country in the “near term” to discuss climate change, despite the ongoing tensions between the U.S. and China, Kerry told Reuters on Wednesday.

President Joe Biden has tentatively approved the meeting between Kerry and his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, pending China’s ability to demonstrate a plan to reduce methane emissions and take steps to transition away from coal, Kerry told the outlet. Diplomatic relations between the two nations have been fraught in recent months, with China temporarily suspending the two nations’ ongoing climate talks following then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August and U.S. Secretary of State postponing a visit to Beijing after a Chinese spy balloon in February reportedly gathered data from U.S. military sites. (RELATED: Comer Threatens Kerry’s ‘Powerful, Unchecked’ Climate Office With Subpoena)

“This has to be cooperative, notwithstanding other differences that do exist,” Kerry told Reuters. “This is not a bilateral issue. This is a universal global threat to everybody in every nation.”

Kerry said that he had met virtually with Xie “just a week or two ago,” and he hoped to be able to cooperate without “pointing fingers,” according to Reuters. He described climate change as a “free-standing issue” that affected both nations equally, although he expressed concern that China had not “fully embraced” U.N. terminology designed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

U.S. Climate Adviser John Kerry (R) listens to U.S. President Joe Biden (L) delivering a speech as they attend a meeting focused on action and solidarity at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, on November 1, 2021. (Photo by KEVIN LAMARQUE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

China approved plans for 168 coal-fired power plants in 2022 — more than three per week — which would generate 50 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity, more than triple the rest of the world put together. Kerry expressed optimism that the U.S. could help China finalize its methane reduction plan, after the country failed to hit its deadline to do so in 2022, according to Reuters.

The House Oversight Committee, chaired by Republican Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, in February criticized Kerry for failing to respond to oversight requests and allegedly downplaying China’s human rights violations and hostile relationship with the U.S. to encourage climate talks that they said China appears uninterested in taking seriously. Comer late in April threatened to subpoena Kerry’s office for its continuing failure to provide the Oversight Committee with information related to budgets, identities of staff and Kerry’s own activities.

“John Kerry continues to negotiate deals with foreign governments, including the Chinese Communist Party, that potentially undermine the United States’ interests and the Biden Administration has refused to respond to Committee requests for information on Kerry’s powerful, unchecked position,” the committee wrote in a press release. Comer seperately questioned Kerry’s ability to negotiate on behalf of the U.S. and serve in a Cabinet-level position despite not receiving confirmation from the Senate.

The White House did not immediately respond to a Daily Caller News Foundation request for comment.

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