Climate change

Hu tackles Bush on climate change

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 September, 2007, 12:00am


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President Hu Jintao delivered an assertive message on climate change and Taiwan to US President George W. Bush yesterday during what he described as a 'sincere and cordial' meeting on the sidelines of the Apec forum summit in Sydney.

Beijing supported moves to tackle climate change - high on the agenda of the summit of the regional leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum.

But it insisted the issue be handled under a global framework which took into account the needs of both developed and developing countries, Mr Hu told Mr Bush. 'We believe that the issue of climate change bears on the welfare of the whole of humanity and sustainable development of the whole world,' Mr Hu said after their meeting. 'And this issue should be appropriately tackled through stronger international co-operation.'

Earlier, Mr Hu said the main channel for international agreement on climate change should be the United Nations.

Analysts said his talks with Mr Bush reflected Beijing's rising political and economic clout in the region, as well as its growing confidence in handling contentious issues on the world stage.

Summit host Australia, backed by the US, is trying to push a 'Sydney Declaration' at the summit, which could replace the Kyoto Protocol after it expires in 2012. It involves greenhouse gas reduction targets for all Apec members. Mr Bush has insisted on the importance of getting China, one of the world's biggest contributors to global warming, along with the US and Australia, 'at the table' for any international effort to control global warming.

Beijing's latest effort to address climate change saw the Foreign Ministry set up a new section and appoint a chief negotiator to deal with climate-change negotiations. But it rejects caps on emissions, because of fears they will cramp growth.

Mr Hu was the first foreign leader Mr Bush met on the sidelines of the annual conference.

Taiwan was another issue featuring high in Mr Hu's talks with Mr Bush, who 'explicitly stated the US position consistent with a position of opposing any changes in the status quo [of the island]', Mr Hu said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said in Sydney afterwards that Mr Hu had signalled that this year and next year were a 'highly dangerous period of the Taiwan Strait situation'.

'He told President Bush that more serious warnings should be given to Taiwan, and made it clear that any separatist activities, in any form, would lead nowhere,' Mr Liu said. 'President Bush said the American side fully understands the concerns of the Chinese government on the Taiwan issues.'

Taiwanese voters are set to decide next March on a referendum on seeking UN membership. Beijing has vowed to take the island by force if it moves towards independence.

Mr Bush also said he had eagerly accepted Mr Hu's invitation for him and his family to attend the Beijing Olympics next year, confirming a report in the South China Morning Post in May that Beijing had invited Mr Bush to the opening ceremony of the Games.

During their 90-minute meeting, the two leaders also touched on exchange rates, trade, product safety, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and religious freedom in China.

'It was constructive because, one, we had a lot to talk about, a lot of interests that we want to work together on, and also because he's an easy man to talk to,' Mr Bush said.