The US wants China to join the developed, is it fair?
Jason C Courtoy
The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Courses
The U.S. desires for China, the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, to join the developed nations in implementing climate control measures, but is it fair? The U.S. has been at the forefront of climate control measures for decades. As such, it is increasingly pressuring China to implement climate control legislation. China, which has a vastly growing economy, is not “developed” by the worlds or its own definition. However, it is coming close with recent changes in policy desires of the PRC for welfare. The largest issue with U.S. pressure is that while the U.S. is the biggest advocate for discussion on the subject, it has yet to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Therefore, the question is whether this is fair. As a realist, it is absolutely not in China’s national interest to subject itself to quasi-dominance by the U.S.
The U.S. wants China to adopted binding climate change legislation. As the largest emitter of gases, the U.S. feels that it is far past time that China joins the developed world by paying and buying climate tokens. It is economical for China to develop/ create innovation that reduces the cost of production, and thereby emissions. The larger question is when should this happen? The U.S. answer to this question is right now. The rapidly growing economy of China, to the U.S., is a sign that China is past the state of a developing-industrial society and has shifted to a developed nation. A prime example of this is the military capabilities of China and its developing capabilities. Looking specifically at ASATs, carrier killers, and cyber warfare tactics, the military capabilities of China are far pasted that of a simple developing-industrial society. Many argue that the definition of developing is often either too strict or too lenient. There are two primary definitions: an industrial society (the old) and a high-tech society (the new). Either way that one looks at it, the shift in military capabilities of China from a massive land-based one (industrial) to a high-tech long-range power projection one expresses a shift in the industrial nature of China. Cyber, or even ASAT, warfare requires highly educated / high-tech personnel, something that an industrial society cannot give China.
China is opposed to U.S. pressure towards binding climate control legislation, but not against it. The reason is that China feels that a binding document must be reached. This is evidenced by Li Gao, a senior Chinese negotiator, who stated that China hoped that the Cancun Consensus would be a stepping stone towards a binding document in South Africa. However, he expressed the desire to maintain the independence of developing nations from paying for climate tokens. The principal defense exposed by China is simply if the U.S. does not bind itself to a binding document why should we. Li Gao expressed that he blamed the U.S. for the failure of Cancun because of their failure to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
As strategic, as it is for the U.S. to remain outside the binding document it is becoming increasingly less of an advantage. The League of Nations must be seen as an important example for U.S. policy moving forward. The League failed because the supplier and principal dependent, the U.S., failed to ratify the treaty. If the U.S. truly desires climate control legislation it must show the initiative to by ratification of the Kyoto Protocol or even domestic climate legislation. China, and other nations for that matter, soon will lose patients and/or decide to take the same path. Remaining on the outside of a binding fund-commitment document is better than being in it, while your political and military rival is not.