BEIJING — China’s special climate envoy, Xie Zhenhua, will meet with his U.S. counterpart John Kerry in Shanghai this week and exchange views on a key United Nations climate conference, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.
The trip marks the highest-level travel to China known so far for officials of the Biden administration.
Sino-U.S. ties had sunk to the lowest level in decades under the Trump administration. High-level talks in Alaska last month, the first since U.S. President Joe Biden took office, yielded no breakthrough and led to fiery interactions.
Kerry, who Biden selected to represent the U.S. in international climate talks, will seek to find common ground on climate change with Xie, whom he has been acquainted with for years.
Kerry is in Shanghai at the invitation of the Chinese ministry of ecology and environment, said Zhao Lijian, a spokesman at the foreign ministry, when asked at a regular media briefing who proposed the face-to-face meeting. The two will exchange views on COP 26, said Zhao.
COP 26, as the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference is also known, will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, in November.
On Tuesday, the State Department said Kerry would travel to Shanghai and Seoul, South Korea, for talks from April 14-17, ahead of President Joe Biden’s virtual summit with world leaders on climate change next week.
Kerry will “discuss raising global climate ambition,” during his visits, the State Department said.
“He’ll be focused on discussing climate and how we can work with leaders around the region to get control of … the climate crisis,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday about Kerry.
Kerry has been urging countries around the world to set ambitious targets for cutting their greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. is set to announce its own new target for emissions cuts by 2030 in the coming week.
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Biden’s Earth Day summit, scheduled for April 22-23, will be a chance for the White House to reassert U.S. leadership on climate change.
Biden, a Democrat, brought the United States back into the Paris climate accord after his predecessor, Republican President Donald Trump, withdrew in 2017.