Jul 17, 2023, 6:44am EDT
East Asia

What to know: John Kerry in China to revive climate talks

U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua before a meeting in Beijing, China July 17, 2023. REUTERS/Valerie Volcovici
REUTERS/Valerie Volcovici

Sign up for Semafor Flagship: The daily global news briefing you can trust. Read it now.

Title icon

The News

John Kerry, the U.S. special envoy on climate, arrived in Beijing Sunday for talks with his Chinese counterparts about combatting global warming.

We’ve collected analysis you should read on Kerry’s trip, aimed at reviving climate talks, amid fraught U.S.-China relations.

Title icon


  • A rivalry between China and the U.S. could bolster climate progress, according to Jeff D. Colgan and Nicholas L. Miller, experts in climate change and government policy. Both countries are trying to woo smaller states onto their side amid ongoing tensions. Using its recent climate “accomplishments,” such as the Inflation Reduction Act, and by working with European partners, the U.S. can force China to “clean up its act,” or cast it as “a climate villain in the court of world opinion.” — Foreign Affairs
  • The two countries are a “G2” of polluting and energy use, the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters, and other nations are watching to see how serious they are about tackling climate action, Dan Kammen, energy professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said. “Each one has a long way to go, each one needs to egg the other on,” he said. — BBC
  • China seems to be gearing up for a conflict with the U.S. Recent hacks on top U.S. officials and agencies were alleged to be carried out by Beijing-sponsored actors, and experts say this is part of a growing trend in cyber-surveillance. “We are definitely seeing more of this spy craft, and even some of those preparation-of-the-battlefield-type activities, where they’re attacking some sort of critical infrastructure and lying dormant in it,” Adam Marrè, chief information security officer at the cybersecurity firm Arctic Wolf, told Semafor’s Jay Solomon last week.
Title icon

Know More

Climate talks between China and the U.S. have stalled over the past year, and Beijing withdrew from scheduled discussions last August in protest of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

Kerry will be the third member of U.S. President Joe Biden’s cabinet to visit China in recent weeks as Washington looks to improve ties.