The US and China are likely to sign an agreement to combat climate change during President Barack Obama's visit to Beijing in November, Washington senator Maria Cantwell said on Friday.
This, and US ambassador to China Jon Huntsman's remark that he was impressed by Beijing's green efforts prompted Chinese analysts to say that the Obama administration wanted to cooperate with China in fighting climate change.
Tokyo, on the other hand, put pressure on Beijing, with the Democratic Party of Japan, voted to power on Sunday, saying its ambitious target of cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions - 25 percent by 2020 from the 1990 levels - was based on the premise that a post-Kyoto Protocol deal will include China and India.
That means Japan wants binding GHG reduction targets imposed on China in the global climate agreement that would succeed the protocol, which expires in 2012.
Senator Cantwell, in Beijing to discuss clean energy and intellectual property rights with Chinese officials, said a deal between the world's two biggest GHG emitters would help build global confidence in fighting global warming.
Within a month of Obama's visit to China, world leaders will gather in Copenhagen for the UN climate change conference to thrash out the details of a post-Kyoto deal.
The US and China are already cooperating in the development of new technologies such as carbon capture and "smart" power grid systems, Cantwell told a press briefing.
And they could reach a wider deal during Obama's visit, to include pledges to cut tariffs on clean-energy related goods and services, and technology transfers, she said.
The Foreign Ministry did not confirm what Cantwell said.
Huntsman told reporters at a press conference in Beijing: "I took a plane last week to Chengdu, Sichuan, and I looked down on the flight outside Beijing and saw roads and roads of new renewable energy, wind energy, that was being developed."
"China is taking it very seriously. You're investing significant amounts of money in your tomorrow," he said.
Shi Jingli, a researcher with the National Development and Reform Commission's Energy Research Institute, said China's wind energy had doubled every year in the past three years, while renewable energy accounted for 8.6 percent of its energy consumption in 2008.
John Miligan-Whyte, chairman of the Center for America-China Partnership, said Huntsman's comments reflected his positive attitude toward China. Huntsman has distinguished himself from the others because of his different mindset toward Beijing.
Yuan Peng, head of the Institute of US Studies under the Chinese Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said Huntsman's remarks showed that the US was more eager to cooperate with China to fight global warming and did not want to dwell on their differences.
Washington is trying to persuade Beijing to accept a set of binding targets for GHG emission cuts. Though China has not committed to any, it has made huge efforts to cut emissions.
Zou Ji, professor of the Renmin University of China, said nearly two-thirds of the key technologies that China needs to mitigate global warming have to be imported from developed economies.
"We found that we need to transfer 43 of them from the key technology list of the developed economies such as the US, Japan and the EU," Zou said at the launch of a UN report on development and climate change.
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