China on Wednesday hit back at US President Joe Biden following his criticism of President Xi Jinping’s decision to skip the make-or-break COP26 United Nations summit in Glasgow.
Xi, who leads the planet’s largest emitter of the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change, has not travelled outside of China since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and has not joined other world leaders for COP26.
Biden on Tuesday had launched blistering criticism of the Chinese and Russian leaders for not attending the summit.
“Actions speak louder than words,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin responded on Wednesday.
“What we need in order to deal with climate change is concrete action rather than empty words,” he added. “China’s actions in response to climate change are real.”
He also made a jibe at Washington by adding that the United States pulling out of the Paris Agreement under Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump had harmed global climate governance and the implementation of the accord.
The comments came after China’s senior envoy to the United Nations Zhang Jun earlier said that addressing climate change would require more than “empty slogans, unchanging policies, luxury motorcades and crowded entourages”.
Speaking on the sidelines of the climate summit on Tuesday, Biden accused China of “not showing up” despite wanting to be a world leader.
“It just is a gigantic issue and they walked away. How do you do that and claim to be able to have any leadership?” Biden said. “It’s been a big mistake, quite frankly, for China not showing up. The rest of the world looked at China and said ‘What value are they providing?’”