The World This Week

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The World This Week
China's White Paper on Climate Change

  GP Team

The World This Week #143, Vol. 3, No. 44

Avishka Ashok

China: The White Paper on Responding to climate change 
What happened?
On 27 October, China's State Council Information Office published a white paper highlighting the country's new policies, the national strategy, and the shift in the state's response to the global climate crisis. The paper is titled "Responding to Climate Change: China's Policies and Actions." The 35-page report responds to the impending climate crisis in four parts. It seeks to prepare the Chinese people for drastic changes that the government will undertake. 

China introduced five principles in its new plan. The paper explained the efforts undertaken by the government to improve the planning and coordination amongst smaller government bodies to execute its new policies. China has also included carbon peaking and carbon neutrality goals in its five-year plans and the national economic and social development plans. The state will also actively control its greenhouse emissions, promote low-carbon development in infrastructure and transportation and enhance its carbon sink capacity. Lastly, the report showcased China's contributions towards preventing the fast degradation of the global ecology and emphasized Chinese President Xi Jinping's efforts to achieve global consensus to act unitedly on the issue of climate change.

What is the background?
First, the energy crisis. In recent weeks, China also faced an energy crisis caused due to the scarcity of coal in the country. Although China is now working on resolving the supply issue, the incident has been an eyeopener for the Chinese economists and politicians who faced a slowdown in the country's economic growth in the third quarter. In order to reduce its emissions, China will have to drastically suspend its dependence on coal-powered energy plants, which may cause yet another slowdown or an energy crisis in the country. The release of the White Paper comes at a time when the country prepares to deal with these inadequacies and creates targets for the coming decades. 

Second, the global push for policy reforms. In the past few years, numerous countries have heightened their cooperation on climate change. Major changes in emission reduction goals were announced after US President Joe Biden returned to the Paris climate accord. In September 2020, China also announced its plans for carbon neutrality by 2060 and reducing emissions by huge margins. The White Paper sheds light on the targets set by the government on achieving carbon neutrality and emissions and the reforms that will be adopted in China to achieve these targets. On 18 December 2020, the UK also published its White Paper title "Powering our net-zero future" to become the first country with a net-zero target. In October 2020, the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga also projected that the country would be a net-zero economy. In 2017, the Australian government also acknowledged the dangers of climate change and released its document on dealing with the growing pressures on climate policy reforms. More countries are currently recreating their policies in order to fit the current needs and to resolve the critical climate risks. 
What does this mean?
The White Paper attempts to explain that climate change cannot be dealt with unilaterally. Although China is eager to take the lead and attempts to showcase its leadership by setting an example through its policy reforms, the paper reiterated that global governance is essential to deal with the challenges of climate change. It repeatedly emphasizes multilateralism and calls for common but differentiated responsibility. 

However, according to a China expert, it fails to provide details about the emissions. Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air in Helsinki said: "The document gives no answers on the major open questions about the country's emissions. At what level will emissions peak and how fast should they fall after the peak?"

The paper released by China shows that the country is prepared to take up major challenges to deal with the climate crisis, but it was adamant about following its own patterns and walking a path created by the Chinese people. 

Also, in the news ...
By Sukanya Bali & Avishka Ashok

East and Southeast Asia This Week
China: Foreign Minister meets Taliban leaders in Doha  
On 26 October, the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with the acting foreign minister of the interim Afghan Taliban government, Amir Khan Muttaqi, at Doha. According to the Chinese foreign ministry, both China and Afghanistan agreed to set up a "liaison mechanism to discuss future exchanges." Global Times reported: Wang Yi said, "China respects Afghanistan's exploration of a pattern that suits its own conditions, and China also respects the interim government's national implementation of policies."
On 25 October, Wang Yi also met the acting deputy prime minister of the Afghan interim government, Mullah Ghani Baradar. This was the second meeting between the leaders. Global Times reported, Baradar said, "Afghan Taliban attaches great importance to China's security concerns and will resolutely honor its promise and never allow any forces to use Afghan territory to harm China."

China: Xi and Macron holds telephonic conversation
On 26 October, Chinese President Xi Jinping held a telephonic conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron. According to Global Times, Xi said: "China and the EU need to continue high-level communication and dialogue, enhance mutual understanding and trust, and reduce misunderstandings and misjudgments." He also added, multiple events have demonstrated that "France is correct in advocating the strategic autonomy of the EU." President Macron assured, "France…. Hopes to strengthen coordination with China in the G20 Leaders' Summit in Italy and the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow." 

South Korea: Former UN chief Ban Ki-moon re-elected as GGGI head
On 29 October, Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was re-elected as the head of a Seoul-based international organization to serve until 2023. The 40 Members of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) unanimously approved the appointment. GGGI supports developing countries' efforts to "transition to environmentally-sustainable economic growth models."

North Korea: Pyongyang demands sanctions relief before discussing end-of-war declaration, reports South Korea's NIS 
On 29 October, The Korea Herald reported, according to South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS), Pyongyang demanded "UN sanctions relief and the suspension of South Korea-US military exercises as a precondition for talks on an end-of-war declaration." The agency noted that North Korea specifically wanted UN sanctions on exports of minerals and import of petroleum products to be lifted. The NIS assessments also indicate severe food and growing material shortages in the country.

Malaysia: Unveils its largest budget 
On 30 October, Malaysia unveiled the country's budget for 2022, which is set to lift "its coronavirus-ravaged economy by between 5.5 per cent and 6.5 per cent." Budget 2022, accounting for more than RM332 billion will be the nation's largest, surpassing the RM321 billion expected to be spent this year. According to Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz, the growth in 2021 was slow to a full-year tally of between 3 percent and 4 percent. He said: "Next year, we must focus on a recovery for all socio-economic segments. Efforts to build resilience will be rolled out to strengthen business and healthcare capacity in facing coming challenges." 

South Asia This Week
India: MEA shows discontent over Beijing's new Land Boundary Law
On 27 October, India raised concerns over Beijing's use of its new "Land Boundary Law." The Ministry of External Affairs statement said: "China's unilateral decision to bring about legislation which can have implications on our existing bilateral arrangements on border management as well as on the boundary question is of concern to us. Such unilateral move will have no bearing on the arrangements that both sides have already reached earlier, whether it is on the boundary question or for maintaining peace and tranquillity along the LAC in India-China Border areas…. We also expect that China will avoid undertaking action under the pretext of this law which could unilaterally alter the situation in the India-China border areas." The Hindu reported: "The new law was cleared by the Chinese legislative assembly on 23 October and will be operational from January 2022." 

Sri Lanka: Beijing blacklists People Bank of Sri Lanka due to failure in payment
On 29 October, the Economic and Commercial Office of the Chinese Embassy blacklisted the People's Bank of Sri Lanka due to a payment failure related to a fertilizer shipment from China. WION reported: Ceylon Fertilizer, a state-owned company, had secured a court order to block the payment of USD 4.9 million to Qingdao Seawin Biotech over a shipment of fertiliser which were found "contaminated." President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's office said: National Plant Quarantine Services has tested a sample from the unnamed Chinese vessel and "confirmed the presence of organisms, including certain types of harmful bacteria." Sri Lanka Ports Authority said: "the agricultural ministry ordered them to prevent the unloading of the fertiliser in any port and to turn away the Chinese vessel."

Pakistan: Saudi Arabia revives USD three billion support; Germany signs an agreement for 26.2-million-euro debt service suspension
On 27 October, Saudi Arabia agreed to revive its financial support to Pakistan. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, in a tweet, said: "Saudi Arabia announced support to Pakistan with 3 billion US dollar as deposit in Pakistan central bank and also financing refined petroleum products with 1. 2 billion US dollar during the year." He also said, "The Saudi government would immediately deposit $3bn in Pakistan's account for a year and keep it rolling at least until the completion of the IMF programme in October 2023." 
On 29 October, Islamabad and Berlin signed an agreement for suspension of debt service of 26.213 million euros under the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI). Dawn reported: according to the German Embassy's press release, "The German government is also in the process of providing another debt suspension facility (DSSI Phase-3) to Pakistan for which matters are currently under discussion."
Afghanistan: Taliban says that conditions for international recognition have been fulfilled
On 29 October, the Taliban government reiterated that it had completed all conditions for recognition by the international community. Tolo reported: deputy spokesperson Bilal Karim said, "The Islamic Emirate expects the regional and world countries to engage with the Afghans and recognize the current government under the leadership of the Islamic Emirate." He also said, "Therefore, the Islamic Emirate would be able to responsibly engage in (resolving) the problems and challenges with the world." 

Afghanistan: Foreign Ministers call for "broad-based political structure" during meeting in Tehran 
On 27 October, Foreign ministers of Iran, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Russia issued a joint statement on Afghanistan in Tehran. Tolo reported the statement highlighted: "An inclusive and broad-based political structure with the participation of all ethno-political groups is the only solution to Afghanistan issues." The statement also added that actions should be taken to "improve people's livelihood and protect the fundamental rights of ethnic groups, women and children in Afghanistan." Ministers also called for "a non-interference approach toward Afghanistan" and expressed their concerns over the complexities in Afghanistan's military, political and social areas. 

Central Asia, Middle East, and Africa This Week 
Tajikistan: China receives approval to build a military base
On 27 October, Radio Free Europe reported that Tajikistan had approved the construction of a Chinese-funded military base near the Afghan border as neighbours of Afghanistan prepared themselves for an influx of refugees after the Taliban took power in the country. The Chinese Embassy also sent a communique to the Foreign Ministry of Tajikistan. The Central Asian country agreed to transfer full control of an already existing base and forego all rental fees in the future. Chinese presence and influence in Central Asia are seen to be increasing at a fast pace since the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Lebanon: Parliament backs holding an early election in March 2022
On 28 October, the Lebanese parliament went against the President and voted to hold elections in March 2022 instead of its usual May elections. The MPs also wish to amend the electoral law of 2017 and chose not to make any additions to the parliament. The issue also has a religious tone as Prime Minister Najib Mikati pushes for March elections to not have campaigns during Ramadan while President pushes against the shift to avoid having campaigns during Lent. The opposition led by the Free Patriotic Movement is the largest Christian bloc in the country that are opposing the amendments in the electoral laws.
Iran: Negotiators announce willingness to resume Vienna talks in November  
On 27 October, Chief Nuclear Negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani announced that the Vienna talks were set to resume in November after months-long stagnation. Kani disclosed the information and the European officials but said that the date was yet to be fixed. However, the current team of negotiators in Iran does not wish to start from the same point that the Rouhani team left the negotiations. Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian said: "we don't want to enter the Vienna negotiations from the deadlock point of the Vienna negotiations."
Saudi Arabia: Bahrain follows the Kingdom to suspend diplomatic ties with Lebanon
On 29 October, the state media in Saudi Arabia announced that the country was about to ban all imports from Lebanon and asked the Lebanese Ambassador to vacate the office within 48 hours. The relationship between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia took a turn for the worse after the Lebanese Information Minister was found criticizing the Saudi coalition-led war in Yemen. The country has also restricted travel to Lebanon and recalled its officials. On the same day, the Kingdom of Bahrain also approved a similar order and demanded the Lebanese Ambassador to leave the country in 48 hours. Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati responded to the developments and said: "We also appeal brotherly Arab leaders to work and help to overcome this crisis in order to preserve Arab cohesion."
Mali: Government expels ECOWAS special representative
On 25 October, the Malian government announced the expulsion of a special representative of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and gave him 72 hours to vacate the country. The government statement said: "The government of the Republic of Mali has decided to declare the ECOWAS special representative in Mali persona non grata, in view of his actions that are incompatible with his status." Although the trigger point is not clear, it is assumed that the repeated pressures from ECOWAS to hold elections in February 2022 are to be blamed.
Sudan: World Bank suspends aid after military coup leads to mass protests
On 30 October, two protestors lost their lives after the security forces in Sudan shot them while the mass protests took over the country. The protests are being held to call out the military coup which took place on 25 October. On 27 October, the World Bank decided to suspend its aid programme to Sudan due to the coup. The international organization will continue to observe the situation in the country before resuming the funds. The African Union also removed Sudan and restricted its participation in the organization. 

Europe and the Americas This Week
France: US President Biden discusses AUKUS with French President Emmanuel Macron
On 30 October, the BBC reported that US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron met at the Vatican Embassy in Rome before the G20 summit and discussed the AUKUS deal. At the meeting, the US admitted that the deal had been made clumsily, making huge losses for the French. He said: "What we did was clumsy. I was under the impression that France had been informed long before that the deal was not going through, honest to God."
Poland: Parliament votes to build a wall at Belarus border
On 30 October, the BBC reported that the Parliament in Poland had consented to build a wall at the Polish-Belarus border to restrict refugees into Europe. The European Union has accused Belarus of triggering this influx as a retaliation to the sanctions on the regime. Over the last year, thousands of people have entered Poland illegally. The bill is one step away from being passed as law as it awaits the Polish President's approval.
Moldova: buying gas again
On 29 October, the government in Moldova and Gazprom announced the extension of a gas supply deal after the country faced immense challenges during the gas shortages and the price hike. The deal agrees to provide gas for the coming five years, starting from November 2021. The Foreign Ministry spokesperson of Moldova said: "The parties reached an agreement on the price formula, the audit of the Moldova-Gaz debt and on subsequent dialogue for repayments."
Brazil: CIMI reveals an increase in violence and land invasion against indigenous communities in 2020
On 28 October, the Catholic Church's Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) released its annual report according to which the violence against indigenous communities had risen by more than 60 percent in 2020. The cause of the increase in violence against the community is the rampant land invasion and the inability of the government to protect their rights. The report said that there had been 182 murders in 2020 while 113 indigenous individuals lost their lives in 2019. A total of 263 cases of land invasion were reported, accounting for a 137 percent increase.
Ecuador: Indigenous communities and social groups protest against rising fuel prices
On 27 October, the President of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, urged the protestors to engage in dialogue as the indigenous communities and other social groups protest against the hike in fuel prices. President Lasso also deployed security forces to bring the situation under control. He said: "I call once more for dialogue, for consensus, for thinking of the good of the country and not of personal, party or union interests." The group responsible for the protests are currently considering the opportunity for negotiation and came forward with seven demands to end the demonstrations.  
The US: Congress fails to achieve consensus on the domestic policy package 
On 29 October, the Democrats failed to reach an agreement on the expansion of social programs and the issue of climate change policies. The US government is currently considering how to spend the USD 1.5 trillion for 10 years and which issues, amongst taxes, prescription drug pricing, family leave, climate change, and immigration, to prioritize. The domestic policy package is still in need of essential votes from key figures in the parliament. President Biden said: "Let's get this done. It will fundamentally change the lives of millions of people for the better."

About the Authors
Avishka Ashok is a Research Associate in the School of Conflict and Peace Studies at the National Institute of Advanced Studies. Sukanya Bali is a PhD Scholar at OP Jindal University. 

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