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The two policies have polar opposite objectives in trying to persuade China, responsible for 27 percent of global carbon emissions, to cut back on building new coal-fuelled power stations, but at the same time demonising China as a pariah state with whom political, commercial and intellectual contacts should be as limited as possible.
Is the risk stemming from China’s claim to the Spratly Islands, and the possibility that it might invade Taiwan, greater than that posed by Beijing building hundreds more coal power stations under its next five year plan – and thereby making the planet less habitable?
Anatol Lieven caustically points out in his ground-breaking book, Climate Change and the Nation State, that the tension between the US and China over the Chinese fortification of reefs and sandbanks in the South China Sea may be ended, if the two nations fail to limit climate change, not by military conflict but by rising sea levels and typhoons that “put the sources of these tensions under water again”.