His Royal Highness, Charles, Prince of Wales, with his long-held interest in all things environmental, is trying to persuade China to help curb climate change.
Via a video link to the UN Cop15 biodiversity summit in the Chinese city of Kunming, Prince Charles declared this week that “world polluters must pay for environmental destruction and the true cost reflected in the price of goods.”
His speech marks a British diplomatic charm offensive to bring Beijing and other rapidly developing economies on side for November’s Cop26 climate change conference in Glasgow.
His intervention is very timely, as the West fears that Chinese goods are undercutting competitors while at the same time the Communist regime benefits from fuelling its own economy with highly polluting coal. In fact, China is the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. About 60 percent of its power comes from coal.
To our immense self-satisfaction, we Britons have cut our carbon emissions — but only by closing our heavy industries and coal mines. We are refusing to take advantage of an abundance of shale gas in the UK, while outsourcing all our energy needs. This approach allows our green-obsessed politicians to lecture the rest of the world on their carbon emissions while the rest of us shiver as we await with dread an especially cold winter.
It is unlikely that the Chinese Communist Party and President Xi Jinping will be quaking in their boots over a lecture on global warming from Prince Charles. China’s appalling human rights record shows that they have the hide of a rhinoceros.
The plight of the Uyghur Muslims has attracted Western attention in recent years, but millions of Chinese have perished under Communism, not only from starvation and cruelty, but also before birth in forced abortions, in a brutal attempt to cut their own population.
Indeed, it is likely that China’s population control program explains the reluctance of many Western environmentalists to draw attention to Chinese pollution, and now green issues are being prioritised over human rights.
John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy for climate, ignored China’s record of genocide in order to do a climate deal with the regime. When he was recently asked: “What is the process by which one trades off climate against human rights?” he responded: “Well, life is always full of tough choices in the relationship between nations”.
In the past, to his great credit, Prince Charles bucked this trend. He made some modest but significant “tough choices” of his own about China.
- In 1999, he missed a state banquet for the visiting Chinese president, Jiang Zemin, over China’s occupation of Tibet. He was a great admirer of the Dalai Lame.
- In 2005, he missed a state banquet for President Hu Jintao because he was flying back from the US with his wife.
- In 2008 he missed the Beijing Olympics.
- In 2015 he missed a state banquet for President Xi Jinping, although he had “significant involvement” in the state visit.
This cannot have been overlooked by the prestige-conscious Chinese.
So it appears that China has embarked upon its own charm offensive with the Prince by inviting him to address to the Cop15 biodiversity summit. The flattering gesture is paying dividends.
Prince Charles gave an uplifting speech about our connection with the environment. It was full of environmental wisdom — “When we protect lands and oceans, we in fact protect ourselves: nature bounces back, bringing with her all the benefits on which life depends. And he praised Chinese civilisation which has had, for thousands of years, “an intimate understanding of nature”.
Perhaps he had cribbed it from Xi Jinping’s equally uplifting speech: “Nature will not fail us. Ecological civilization represents the development trend of human civilization. Let us join hands, follow the philosophy of ecological civilization and shoulder our responsibility for future generations. Let us make joint efforts to build a community of all life on Earth, and a clean and beautiful world for us all.”
How comforting! How inspiring! How exhilarating!
What a pity there was no time for the Prince to mention his good friend the Dalai Lama and China’s oppression in Tibet! What a pity that he forgot to mention human rights abuses amongst the Uyhgurs in Xinjiang!
Who’s charming whom?
Prince Charles should rethink his participation in the British government’s charm offensive. If it fails to take into account China’s murderous human rights record, it will be not so much a charm offensive as a smarm offensive, doing incalculable harm to humanity. In fact, it will be offensive, tout court.
By all mean, save the Planet. But human rights must not come second to environmental concerns.
Here’s a thought. Logically speaking, if human beings are killing the Planet, the more human beings killed the better. Perhaps China should be awarded a green medal after all.