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China's News Coverage of COP16

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BY Katherine Kwong
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities


China is a key player in the climate change negotiations taking place at COP 16 in Cancun due to its status as the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide. Their news coverage of the events is thus of great interest, since it represents how most people in China perceive the talks and the issues surrounding them.

In general, China's news coverage of the event has focused around a few key themes:

The weak position of the United States at the COP 16 talks. Many news stories have focused on the U.S.'s midterm elections and the likely inability of the U.S. to push through a domestic bill for climate change. They have also discussed what they describe as "growing international pressure" for the U.S. to take responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions. This dovetails with China's official position that the United States and other developed countries should take responsibility for most greenhouse gas emissions rather than forcing developing countries to do so. Many news stories emphasize the historic responsibility of developed countries and express hope that they will "contribute fairly" and "show sincerity."

Progress China is making on greenhouse gas emissions. China has had some success in decreasing their greenhouse gas emissions and in altering their laws about energy consumption and production. Many news reports promote these changes by the government heavily, holding them up as a sign that China, unlike the United States, is actively working on the issue.

China's desire for these talks to be productive. Many news articles express hope that these talks will make progress on specific issues that China is interested. Most emphasize China's willingness to contribute to any agreement, portraying other countries (i.e., developed countries) as roadblocks to getting an agreement done.

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  of the Institute on the Environment/University of Minnesota.

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