Sen. Barrasso: China Playing US 'For the Fool' Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., speaks before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 23, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Greg Nash/Getty Images)
By Charlie McCarthy | Friday, 30 April 2021 09:50 AM
China is "playing the United States for the fool" as it seeks to become the world's dominant power, according to Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.
In a Friday column in USA Today, Barrasso said China has no intention of working with other countries to combat climate change. Instead, its goal is to overtake the U.S. as the No. 1 global economy.
"China pretends it's a developing country, steals technology, uses forced labor, and manipulates markets to its advantage," said Barrasso, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"During his speech to Congress, President Biden said he wants to make 'sure every nation plays by the same rules in the global economy, including China.' Yet his administration seems determined to fall for China’s grand deception. China is playing the United States for the fool."
Barrasso said Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng was uncharacteristically honest when he said it’s "not realistic" to expect China to pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
According to the senator, the Biden administration is ignoring reality by sending Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry on a "quixotic diplomatic quest" to get China to cooperate with the U.S. and "do something meaningful to combat climate change."
"Mr. Kerry’s pursuit of international cooperation with China on climate change is sadly predictable, but China is not in the cooperation business," Barrasso said. "It’s in the global domination business."
The best China has done in terms of agreeing there's a climate crisis is joining a non-binding joint statement with the U.S.
Barrasso said Beijing has been allowed to act this way because it has "developing" country status — and thus fewer responsibilities — in the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change.
"The Framework Convention was signed in 1992, a time when China really was a developing country," said Barrasso, ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
"Since then, its economy has grown more than 1,000% and its emissions more than 250%. It’s now the world’s second largest economy and largest emitter — twice as large as the United States."
Vice Premier Han Zheng argued that as the largest developing and developed countries, China and the United States, should observe their "common but differentiated responsibilities," in an April 16 video meeting with Kerry.
"A polite way of saying, 'You first,'" said Barrasso, who added The Paris Agreement negotiated with Kerry in 2015 did nothing to get rid of the developed-developing country divide.
"China could volunteer to be included among the developed nations, but that would mean giving up its strategic advantage. It won’t do that, so instead we have a commitment from China that allows it to emit with abandon until at least 2030."
China meanwhile has cornered the solar industry global market.
"They have stifled innovation and caused many cutting-edge companies in America and Europe to call it quits," Barrasso said. "China now supplies more than two-thirds of all solar modules. Chinese companies also make up seven of the top 10 wind turbine manufacturers."
Barrasso pointed out that key parts of Chinese solar panels are manufactured in Xinjiang province — where the Muslim Uyghur minority is used as forced labor, though Beijing denies it.
Barrasso said China has no problem stealing advanced energy technologies — via espionage and spying — if need be. The recent Annual Threat Assessment from the Director of National Intelligence warned China was targeting the U.S. defense, energy, and finance sectors.
"We’re seeing almost weekly news stories detailing how researchers connected to China’s military and intelligence services have penetrated our universities and research institutions," Barrasso said. "They are exploiting the free exchange of ideas to pilfer intellectual property. We need to wake up to the threat."
The senator also said part of China’s conscious geopolitical and commercial strategy is controlling critical materials (copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt, rare earths) used in many defense and energy technologies.
"After achieving energy self-reliance, it would be a mistake to surrender America’s energy advantage," Barrasso said. "We should not turn our energy dominance over to the whims of foreign powers like China that are actively seeking America’s decline. Undermining America’s energy security will not solve climate change."