US climate envoy John Kerry declines to call Xi Jinping a ‘dictator’

US climate envoy John Kerry declines to call Xi Jinping a ‘dictator’
via Associated Press
Ryan General
July 14, 2023
United States climate envoy John Kerry refused to describe Chinese President Xi Jinping as a “dictator” during a hearing with House Republicans on Thursday. 
The hearing: Ahead of his Beijing trip on Sunday, the former secretary of state faced Republicans from the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s oversight subcommittee, who expressed concerns about engaging in climate negotiations with China.
During the hearing, the GOP lawmakers questioned the upcoming talks, citing China’s alleged human rights abuses, its reluctance to cut its fossil fuel emissions and its issues regarding forced labor.
“Dictator”?: Representative Darrell Issa (R, CA-48) pressed Kerry several times, asking if he agreed with President Joe Biden calling Xi a “dictator.”
Each time, Kerry chose not to repeat the term, instead calling the Chinese Communist Party general secretary “the major decider of the direction and of the policies of China.” 

“Is he in fact, effectively a dictator?” asked Issa.
“Well, I’m not, I don’t think it’s useful to get into, I’m not going to get into-” Kerry began before Issa cut him off again.
“But he does wield the power of a dictator?” Issa inquired.
“He wields enormous power as the leader of China, absolutely,” conceded Kerry. “And everybody understands that. But I don’t, you know-”
Issa then asked Kerry if he wished “the president had used another word.”
“No, I don’t even, I don’t, I just, frankly, all of that is water off the duck’s back, and, you know, I don’t think we ought to get tangled up in, you know, labels and names and whatever,” Kerry asserted. “What we ought to do is look at the heart of what we’re trying to do.”
He then noted that Biden and Xi have a “very good relationship,” which Xi “honors.”
On cutting emissions: The lawmakers questioned the appropriateness of negotiating with a country they view as untrustworthy in addressing emissions.

According to Foreign Affairs Committee Chairperson Rep. Michael McCaul (R, TX-10), China fires a “coal plant up pretty much every day, if not week.”
They also criticized China’s claims that it is still a “developing country” and should not be held to the same climate standards as developed Western economies. While Kerry acknowledged the sentiment, he emphasized that global progress on cutting emissions should not be hindered by the disparity.
He recognized that persuading China to conform to the same emissions-cutting standards as other major economies might not occur during his visit, but he expressed optimism that the Chinese government “understands this is a growing issue of concern.”

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