With the full support of the Democratic Party, President Biden pledged to let this country defend human rights and tackle climate change throughout the world. Although these are not competing goals, they are not necessarily reinforcing.
Last week, John Kerry announced plans to visit China to continue carbon emissions negotiations. This task is suitable for the climate change envoy designated by the Biden government. But some Republican lawmakers asked to know whether Kerry had been quietly lobbying against Washington’s anti-slave labor legislation to gain diplomatic breathing space before the Beijing climate talks.
The issue is Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Law, The bipartisan legislation passed the Senate easily through a voice vote in July, but was shelved in the House of Representatives. If signed into law, it will prohibit the import of any Chinese goods manufactured using forced Uyghur labor. This move will further anger Beijing, because the government there has been criticized by the international community for mass detention, forced sterilization and widespread abuse of Muslim Uyghur minorities in Xinjiang.
In a letter obtained exclusively by RealClearPolitics, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey expressed concern that Kerry is “playing down genocide precisely because he intends to use solar cells produced by forced labor in China. The board is imported to the U.S. to achieve your government’s climate goals.”
For months, human rights advocates have wondered if this is the reason why this popular legislation has stalled in the House of Representatives after it passed the Senate.According to an Associated Press report, Kerry “A powerful debate” Regarding the question before going to China last spring. The two Republicans on the Congress-Administrative China Committee and the main sponsors of the bill, Rubio and Smith, pointed out that the report proves that Kerry is undermining the president’s commitment to put human rights at the “center” of his foreign policy.
Biden has repeatedly condemned China’s abuse of Uighur Muslims, first as a candidate and then as president.During the activity He called it “genocide”, His State Department then formally responded to this description. Only one month after Biden took office, he instructed his Ministry of Finance to sanction two Chinese government officials for continuing human rights violations. Secretary of State Anthony Brinken praised the move as a necessary punishment for the regime that “continues to commit genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.” When this behavior did not improve, the government went a step further and imposed additional sanctions on the Chinese solar panel industry.
The President seemed to raise this issue in his speech at the UN General Assembly, although indirectly, he did not name China.he Ask the world Commitment to “preserving human dignity and human rights, more than 70 years ago, countries with a common cause established this institution.”
For his purposes, Kerry believes that humanitarian missions are different from his climate goals. He said the same thing in his congressional testimony in May, when Congressman Smith asked him if he had discussed the plight of the Uyghur people with the Chinese climate envoy. “That’s not my driveway,” The former secretary of state replied. “My goal is, very specifically, to try to get the Chinese to take what we need to do in terms of climate.”
However, Kerry is frank about the intertwined challenges of crimes against humanity and the deteriorating global climate. “On the one hand, we said to them,’You have to do more to help deal with the climate problem,'” he said. Told reporters earlier this month“On the other hand, their solar panels have been sanctioned, which makes it more difficult for them to sell.”
“They think it’s contradictory,” Kerry Said in an interview In the northern Chinese city of Tianjin, he had a few days of talks with the Washington Post. So, Bloomberg’s David Westin asked in an interview on Wednesday, how can we determine the right balance between human rights and the need to address climate change? “Well,” Kerry replied. “Life is always full of hard choices And the relationship between countries. Kerry compared his negotiations with China to US-Soviet diplomacy in the 1980s. He recalled how President Reagan “thinked the Soviet Union was an evil empire,” but he still concluded a treaty with the Soviet Union to withdraw medium-sized nuclear missiles from European territory. .
“The point I want to say is that even if Ronald Reagan points out that there are serious human rights issues, we must find a way forward to make the world safer, protect our country, and act in our interests. , “Kerry Tell Bloomberg. “We can and must do the same thing now. Yes, we have problems, there are many different problems, but first, the planet must be protected.”
According to Rubio and Smith, these trade-offs are “completely unacceptable to senior US government officials.” They told Biden in the letter that they were worried that Kerry was “playing down genocide, precisely because he planned to import solar panels produced in China using forced labor into the United States in order to achieve your government’s climate goals.”
“You have repeatedly promised to put human rights at the center of the government’s foreign policy. In light of this, what is even more worrying is that it is reported that your government members are clearly opposed to this cause and are reportedly trying to postpone a bipartisan bill. The bill will make the CCP responsible for its unspeakable crimes,” the two concluded.
When asked about Kerry’s remarks on Monday night, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told RCP that the president’s climate envoy accurately conveyed the fact that the government has a double priority in this situation, and that the president has both Stay loyal. “Where we have concerns, whether it is their economic approach or human rights issues, … we will raise [them] Privately, we will also raise publicly,” she said. “But we will also cooperate with the Chinese in areas within our capacity. Obviously, climate is one of them. “
However, Psaki does not know whether Biden supports a bill prohibiting the use of forced labor to manufacture Chinese goods.