If the skin does not exist, what could the hair adhere to?
Kong Qingjiang
National flags of China and the U.S. /Xinhua

National flags of China and the U.S. /Xinhua

Editor's note: Kong Qingjiang is the dean of the School of International Law at the China University of Political Science and Law. Zhai Yucheng is an ajunct senior research fellow of the Academy of International Rule of Law at China University of Political Science and Law. The article reflects the authors' opinions, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visited China's Taiwan region while disregarding China's firm opposition. In response to the U.S. provocation, the People's Republic of China imposed on August 5, eight countermeasures against the United States. One of the eight countermeasures is the suspension of China-U.S. talks on climate change.

Since the U.S. launched an unprecedented trade war against China, trade relations have been returned to the role of the "ballast stone" of bilateral relations. Many observers believe that cooperation between the two countries on climate change has become a new ballast stone. The sanctions show that relations between the two countries have once again reached a new low.

Ironically, after Beijing announced the countermeasures, U.S. senior officials, one after another, first by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and then by U.S. Special Envoy on Climate Change John Kelly, blamed China for holding hostage talks on "important global matters such as the climate crisis" and "punishing the world, and particularly the developing world." Apparently, Washington is playing a tricky game by misusing the climate change narratives to confuse the world and to blame China.

For China, the countermeasures are justified under international law. According to a well-established rule of customary international law, if a country's act, which is not grounded in international law, infringes the rights and interests of another country, the latter may resort to corresponding countermeasures.

Pelosi's visit is a serious breach of the three joint communiques between the China and the U.S. and has infringed on the sovereign rights and core interests of China. Moreover, due to her official capacity as the number three U.S. official, Pelosi's wrongdoings shall be attributable to the U.S. Hence, China is entitled to impose its countermeasures.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) prepares to depart from her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., July 29, 2022. /CFP

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) prepares to depart from her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., July 29, 2022. /CFP

As an old Chinese saying goes, if the skin does not exist, what could the hair adhere to its and core interests and its blatant violation of international law.

When the U.S. has undermined the political and legal foundations of China-U.S. bilateral relations, and the principles for cooperation getting violated, how can Washington select on its own areas for cooperation with Beijing? The U.S. aspiration to continue climate change talks if genuine, amounts to an expectation that an oasis thrives in desert surroundings.

China has been serious in honoring its commitments on carbon emissions, and has offered assistance to developing countries in developing green energy and combating climate change. The country will continue cooperation on climate change with other countries on a mutually respectful manner.

For China, halting negotiations with the U.S. is not targeting climate change, but to show the world that the sovereign rights and core interest of China could not be trampled on.

The international community should have a better understanding of what exactly the U.S. accusation is intended to lead if they are to know more about the international treaty nature of the three joint communiques and their essence, the sequence and nature of the events regarding Pelosi's visit (such as the media leaks of Pelosi's intended Taiwan visit, China's repeated admonitions, Pelosi's real visit and China's imposition of countermeasures). Any reasonable and unbiased observers will not be misled by the accusation of the U.S. senior officials, which rides freely on the climate change narrative.

For the U.S., if it wishes to continue talks with China on climate change, it should refrain from breaching its obligations of international law nature under the three joint communiques so as to pave the way for the healthy development of China-U.S. relations, as well as for China-U.S. cooperation on climate change.

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