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AP Interview: China to send 'positive message' on climate

A leading Chinese diplomat said Friday that his country, the world’s largest carbon emitter, plans to send a “positive message” at a climate change meeting called by U.S. President Joe Biden for next week.

But Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Yucheng also signaled that China is unlikely to make any new proposal beyond its current commitments on climate change.

“For a big country with 1.4 billion people, these goals are not easily delivered," he said in a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press. "Some countries are asking China to do more on climate change. I am afraid this is not very realistic.”

Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Yucheng speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, Friday, April 16, 2021. Le spoke to AP on a wide range of issues during an interview on Friday including climate change and US-China relations. (AP PhotoMark Schiefelbein)

He spoke as Biden’s climate envoy, John Kerry, was discussing the issue on the second day of closed-door meetings with Chinese counterparts in Shanghai.

Le said he had no details on those meetings.

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced last year that China would be carbon-neutral by 2060 and aim to reach a peak in its emissions by 2030.

Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Yucheng listens to a question during an interview with the Associated Press at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, Friday, April 16, 2021. Le spoke to AP on a wide range of issues during an interview on Friday including climate change and US-China relations. (AP PhotoMark Schiefelbein)

Biden has invited 40 world leaders, including Xi, to an April 22-23 virtual climate summit. The U.S. and other countries are expected to announce more ambitious national targets for cutting carbon emissions and pledge financial help for climate efforts by less wealthy nations.

Le didn't say whether Xi would join the summit, but said “the Chinese side is actively studying the matter.”

Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Yucheng speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, Friday, April 16, 2021. Le spoke to AP on a wide range of issues during an interview on Friday including climate change and US-China relations. (AP PhotoMark Schiefelbein)

Staff members and translators take notes as Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Yucheng speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, Friday, April 16, 2021. Le spoke to AP on a wide range of issues during an interview on Friday including climate change and US-China relations. (AP PhotoMark Schiefelbein)

Staff members watch as Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Yucheng speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, Friday, April 16, 2021. Le spoke to AP on a wide range of issues during an interview on Friday including climate change and US-China relations. (AP PhotoMark Schiefelbein)