Welcome to the 19th edition of Between The Lines. This week we look at China’s tarnished “green credentials” and its addiction to coal. Every cloud appears to have a sooty lining. Also, we focus on the European Union’s road rage over Chinese EVs and Beijing’s “New World Order.” Let’s get started.
Beijing’s green credentials are covered in layers of black soot. At least half of the world’s coal-fired power plants are in China, spewing out greenhouse gases. The image is in stark contrast to the official Communist Party narrative of championing “climate goals.”
In March, the verbal smog thickened when a report by the Global Energy Monitor and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air revealed the country was planning to quadruple the amount of new coal power plants in 2022, according to National Public Radio.
To put that into context, “it is the equivalent of two new coal-fired power plants per week.” No wonder Special Climate Envoy Xie Zhenhua was backtracking last week on China’s climate commitments ahead of the COP28 summit in Dubai later this year.
He said as reported by Reuters news agency:
It is unrealistic to completely phase out fossil fuel energy.
“Xie said [Beijing] opposes fossil fuel ‘phase out’ language, which pits the country against small island states and some other [nations] that are pushing for such language to be in any COP28 agreement,” it added.
So much for China’s climate of friendship as the self-appointed leader of the Global South after accusing the “West” of failing to “deliver its carbon pledges.”
Rocky road for EU filled with EV potholes
A split between the European Union’s “big beasts” risks wrecking a plan to stop Chinese electric vehicles from flooding into the world’s largest trading bloc.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is ready to scupper a move by French President Emmanuel Macron in a bid to save Germany’s car industry.
Stacked against him are fellow German and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, as well as the EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis. Only China is in Scholz’s corner, which is hardly surprising. Cue Reuters and that Scholz quote about EV sanctions:
I am not very convinced of this, to put it politely.
“Our economic model should not be based or rely on protectionism but on the attractiveness of our products,” Scholz said earlier this week.
The EU is considering imposing tariffs on made-in-China EVs because of massive state subsidies. But Scholz fears that German auto brands, such as BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen, will come under fire from Beijing in China’s crucial marketplace.
It appears the threats are real. Chinese Vice-Premier He Lifeng told “the EU to exercise caution” after expressing “strong dissatisfaction” at Brussels’ stance.
His comments came after French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire warned in June that “the issue may be provocative” but we “must not rule out tariffs.” Expect sparks to fly.
Xi’s vision of a New World Order
It is a bulky 22,000 words and comes with the catchy title A Global Community of Shared Future: China’s Proposals and Actions. The latest white paper released earlier this week emerged from a “grand vision” put forward by “Chairman of Everything” Xi Jinping.
State-run China Daily gushed that it was a “call for building an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity.”
Yet caveats remain even in President Xi’s “integrated world” dream. State-controlled Global Times warned that “those who turn their back on it will have no place in it.” In an editorial, Global Times added:
Western political elites [need] to set aside their arrogance and carefully listen to China’s voice.
Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, spelled out the Communist Party line. “A few Western countries led by the US always try to boycott, stigmatize, or downplay China’s proposals, and this is because of their arrogance and ignorance,” Li said.
Open and inclusive? Not for the United States and the alliance of democracies.
And finally …
The US and its allies must be prepared for a two-front war in Northeast Asia and nuclear attacks in the next decade, a report from the Atlantic Council warns. “The risk of simultaneous conflict [with China and North Korea] is very high,” Markus Garlauskas, the study’s author, said in a pre-recorded video. Check it out on USNI News.