In the era of the Covid-19 pandemic, climate extremes dominate headlines around the world, now that human influence has warmed the climate at an unprecedented rate over the past two thousand years. As the world’s two largest carbon dioxide (CO2) emitters, China and the United States have a key role to play in any global climate solutions. However, the rapid deterioration in China-US relations in recent years has complicated their capacity to work together.
In 1978, Deng Xiaoping opened China’s inward-looking, agrarian economy to the outside world. The “reforms and opening up” policies were, naturally, endorsed by the US, which promptly transferred diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing on January 1, 1979. Since then and until 1991, China’s nominal gross domestic product (GDP) grew at a breakneck pace of nearly 15 percent annually. However, due to a drastic depreciation of the Chinese yuan (¥) against the US dollar ($), from 1.7 ¥/ $ in 1978 to 5.3 ¥/ $ in 1991, China’s mediocre share of the global economy measured by current $ declined slightly, from 1.7 percent in 1978 to 1.6 percent in 1991.
Then came the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991. The end of the Cold War brought a profound redistribution of power among states, markets, and civil society. National governments started to share power—including political, social, and security roles at the core of sovereignty—with businesses, with international organizations, and with a multitude of citizen groups, known as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)…
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