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US, China to further cooperation on environmental protection, says expert

A combination photo take over nine consecutive days during the National People's Congress in March, 2013. Photo: Reuters

The US and China will continue to deepen collaboration in areas of climate change, clean energy and environmental protection even though these issues may not be at the center of the new US government's agenda, according to a China expert.

In an interview with, Yang Dali, a political science professor at the University of Chicago, disagreed with the notion held by many political scholars that US President-elect Donald Trump will abandon his predecessor's efforts on working with China to tackle the issues of climate change and clean energy development, saying that Trump has no reason and no right to abrogate the related treaties the US signed with China and other countries.

The solid foundation China's central government and the US federal government have laid in cooperating on climate change will spill over to the two countries' local governments, and the common interest in developing clean energy will bring economic benefits, said Yang, who is also a senior advisor to the President and the Provost on Global Initiatives.

In the US, issues like clean energy are not ones that can be completely decided by the president. To some extent, the next US government will make less intervention in legislation on environmental protection laws and regulations due to Trump's previous pledge that his cabinet will play a smaller role in the area.

In the interview, Yang applauded the achievements China has made in protecting the environment.

In the past, China was recklessly developing its economy at the cost of damaging the environment, and the legislation about the environmental protection needed a lengthy procedure, leading to a fact that the Chinese people's sense of happiness was falling due to concerns over severe pollution and food safety.

In the light of it, Yang praised China's current leadership for its commitment to building a "beautiful China" with healthy environment and low pollution. He also highlighted China's far-reaching anti-corruption drive that cripples the state-owned enterprises' privileges that may hinder the cause of environmental protection.

China is adopting a double-footed approach characterized by a licensing system and administrative punishment in its push to curb the greenhouse gas emissions that have involved local governments and the public. And the country's social media has played a role in enhancing the transparency of the government's behavior, said Yang.

(The article is translated and edited by Ding Yi.)

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