China said on Friday that the United States needed to take more responsibility on climate change but welcomed greater cooperation after a visit by envoy John Kerry, according to state media.

A vehicle with John Kerry on board arrives at a state guest hotel in Shanghai. Photo: Reuters

The former secretary of state turned US climate emissary was the first official from President Joe Biden’s administration to visit China, signalling hopes the two sides could work together on the global challenge despite sky-high tensions on multiple other fronts.

“China attaches importance to carrying out dialogue and cooperation on climate change with the US side,” said Vice-Premier Han Zheng, according to state news agency Xinhua.

“China welcomes the US return to the Paris agreement, and expects the US side to uphold the agreement, shoulder its due responsibilities and make due contributions,” Han said after virtual talks with Kerry, who visited Shanghai where he met his Chinese counterpart.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying was more blunt on Twitter as she highlighted the US withdrawal from the Paris accord under former president Donald Trump.

Biden immediately returned to the deal and next week holds a virtual summit of world leaders on climate.

“Its return is by no means a glorious comeback but rather a truant getting back to class,” Hua said of the United States.

She pressed the United States to “offer how it will make up for the lost four years”, including payments to the UN-backed Green Climate Fund, which provides support to developing countries worst hit by climate change.

Biden is expected next week to announce new US targets on reducing carbon emissions as part of the summit amid mounting global alarm over record-breaking temperatures and increasingly frequent natural disasters.

Kerry and other Biden administration officials have said that it is vital to work on climate with China – by far the largest carbon emitter at nearly 30 per cent of the global total.

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April 17, 2021 at 11:02AM