Rep. McCaul: China’s Human Rights Can’t Be Ignored for Climate Deal

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the ranking Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Kerry, the president’s special envoy on climate change, at a hearing on Wednesday (May 12) that his country’s violations cannot be set aside in order to reach a climate deal with the Chinese Communist Party.

Rep. McCaul, from Texas, reminded Kerry, who served as U.S. secretary of state during the Obama administration, during the hearing that human rights violations cannot be ignored in order to reach a climate deal because the two are interrelated.

“I know you can try to compartmentalize it. The problem is, it’s intertwined because when you look at the supply chain, you see China. They dominate the key mineral supply and solar supply chains that are coming from Xinjiang that we think is using slave labor to create these renewable energy sources,” he said.

In response, Kerry acknowledged that slave labor has infiltrated the world’s green energy supply chain.

“You’re absolutely right. It’s a problem.”

In some cases, Kerry said, some of the solar panels produced in Xinjiang are produced by forced Uighur labor.

Some figures show that about 80 percent of solar panels are produced in China.

The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on April 21 passed the Forced Uighur Labor Prevention Act and a bill condemning the Chinese Communist authorities for genocide and crimes against humanity against the Uighurs and other ethnic and religious groups.

In a statement released at the beginning of the hearing, Rep. McCaul addressed climate issues, saying that China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, accounting for nearly 30 percent of global emissions, yet the Paris Agreement only requires China to take minimal responsibility while allowing them to continue to increase emissions through 2030, while at the same time it disproportionately penalizes American workers and American industry – even though China emits more than twice as much carbon dioxide as the United States.

The Biden administration has said that there is room for cooperation between the U.S. and China in addressing the climate crisis in the face of the challenge posed by the Chinese Communist Party to join allies in defending universal values such as human rights and democracy and a rules-based international order, and that the U.S.-China relationship includes all three dimensions of confrontation, competition and cooperation.

President Biden’s climate envoy, John Kerry, made a three-day visit to China April 14-17 for counterpart talks with China’s Special Representative for Climate Change Xie Zhenhua. He was the first senior official to visit China since the Biden administration took office. Following the meeting, the two sides issued a joint statement saying they are committed to cooperating with each other and taking action to address the crisis caused by climate change.