President Xi Jinping has just concluded his whirlwind tour of Paris, Harare, Pretoria and Johannesburg. In Paris, Xi delivered a strong message at the UN climate change conference, presenting China's vision of and contribution to global efforts to combat climate change. He visited Zimbabwe and South Africa to strengthen China's bonds with the two countries. In Johannesburg, he participated in the summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, promising to further deepen Sino-African cooperation. And during his visit to France, he also met with the US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the climate conference, in order to stabilize bilateral ties. [Special coverage]
These visits and meetings signify China's cooperative institutional-building efforts for a better world.
At the climate conference, Xi envisioned a new globally binding agreement that would promote the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change beyond 2020. Beijing has urged the developed world to fulfill its commitment to mobilizing resources both before and after 2020 to support developing countries adapt to and combat climate change. Also, Beijing will contribute $3 billion to "China Climate South-South Cooperation Fund" to exemplify its leadership in this regard.
The past few years have seen China making steady and bold efforts to fight climate change. The Intended Nationally Determined Contribution China issued in June says the country's carbon emission will peak in 2030, if not earlier, and it is committed to reducing its carbon emission per unit of GDP by 60-65 percent by 2030 from the 2005 level. It has also committed to raising its use of non-fossil fuels to about 20 percent of the total primary energy consumption mix by 2030. China may be the leading carbon emitter, but even as a developing country it has committed far more than most developed countries in relative terms to combat climate change.
China's strong push to forge a robust global regime for fighting climate change reflects its genuine intent to cooperate with other countries to make the planet a sustainable place.
For Africa, China has been the largest trading partner for the past six years, with the two-way trade reaching $220 billion last year. Since 2000 China's investment in Africa has been increasing by 37 percent annually to reach a total of $30 billion. These investments have helped develop Africa's agricultural and industrial sectors flourish, increase local employment, and reduce poverty.
Xi's visit to Africa yielded economic agreements worth $13.4 billion. His visit further deepened China-Africa cooperation, and lead to more comprehensive institutional cooperation between the two sides in areas such as the economy, trade, science and technology, finance, investment, infrastructure, manufacturing, energy and people-to-people exchanges.
Besides, Xi used the meeting with Obama in Paris to recommit the two sides to what they had agreed in Washington more than two months ago. Since Xi's state visit to the United States in September, China and the US have been honoring their promises. Recently, the US withdrew its opposition to the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and supported the yuan's bid to be part of the International Monetary Fund's Special Drawing Rights basket. And the climate conference has boosted China-US cooperation in climate change.
But despite all this, Beijing and Washington still have some differences in cyber and maritime security. The US still accuses China of hacking and sent its warship USS Lassen in the waters near China's Zhubi Jiao in the South China Sea, posing threat to China's national security. Moreover, the US has indicated it would sell new weapons to Taiwan soon.
For years China and the US have been dogged by conflicting issues. Now, they have to find ways to resolve them. To implement the agreements between Xi and Obama, China and the US have for the first time convened a high-level joint dialogue, which has worked out the guiding principles to fight cyber crimes. These principles will yield the tools to peacefully handle future cases and accusations. Such institutional cooperation should extend to maritime issues as well, in order to calm the troubled waters of the South China Sea.
The author, Shen Dingli, is a professor at and associate dean of the Institute of International Studies in Fudan University, Shanghai.