US President Joe Biden on Tuesday accused China and Russia of failing to show leadership on climate change and sharply criticized their leaders for not attending the COP26 summit in Glasgow.
Speaking at a United Nations summit aimed at forging an ambitious new climate deal, Biden called for his presence and promised proof that “America is back” after his predecessor Donald Trump’s stand-alone approach.
“The fact that China is trying to assert a new role in the world as world leader is not visible, come on!” Biden told reporters before taking off from Glasgow.
“It’s just a big issue and they left. How do you do that and someone claim to be able to lead?” Biden said.
He said, “It has been a big mistake to not come before China. The rest of the world looked at China and said ‘What value are they providing?”
Jinping, who leads the world’s largest emitter of carbon emissions attributed to climate change, has not traveled outside China since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.
Biden was even more outspoken about Russian President Vladimir Putin, who travels and met with the US president in Geneva in June. Russia is the world’s fourth largest emitter.
“His tundra is burning – literally, the tundra is burning. He has serious, serious climate problems, and he is silent on his desire to do anything,” he said.
America is back
Biden has intensified US climate action with a promise to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2050, a sharp reversal from climate-skeptic Trump, though Biden still faces domestic hurdles on moving forward .
Biden said he was fulfilling his pledge at the Group of Seven summit in Cornwall in June on his first international visit as president – that the United States was returning to the international stage.
“Two world leaders came up to me today and said, ‘Thank you for your leadership. You’re making a big difference here,'” Biden acknowledged, acknowledging his comments as “self-serving.”
US officials had previously expected that Jinping would meet Biden for the first time as president at the Group of 20 summit in Rome later this week.
However, the two countries said they would meet virtually by the end of the year. Biden said no date has been set.
Biden said he hoped their talks would bring more predictability to the relationship, which has been soured by disputes on a myriad of fronts, including human rights and China’s growing assertiveness on Taiwan.
“I’m going to be clear. This is competition, it doesn’t have to be a conflict,” Biden said.
“I’ve even indicated to him – and I’m not hesitant to say it publicly – that we expect him to play by the rules of the road.”
Biden recently made waves by saying that the United States would militarily defend Taiwan if attacked by China, which claims a self-governing democracy.
The United States provides weapons to the island but is intentionally unclear whether it will defend it.
Without directly addressing Taiwan, Biden said he did not believe there would be a conflict with China, which his administration has identified as the top challenge of the 21st century.
“I don’t think there will be a need for physical struggle,” Biden said.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)