China offers climate assistance to Taiwan in move to strengthen claim over island

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China has offered Taiwan assistance to combat climate change, Beijing’s top envoy to the COP27 summit in Egypt said, using environmental policy to bolster its claim over the island.

“Within the policy of One China, we have provided assistance to Taiwan to implement climate policies,” Xie Zhenhua, China’s envoy at the conference, said in a speech Wednesday. Xie was speaking in the absence of China’s president, Xi Jinping.

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In the past, China has largely avoided any mention of Taiwan at such events and vigorously opposed Taipei’s attempts to participate in international forums, including the COP summits. By speaking on behalf of Taiwan at COP27, Xie took a new approach to Beijing’s claim of jurisdiction.

“This shows how China sees the interlinkages between climate and geopolitics,” Belinda Schäpe, a climate diplomacy researcher at think tank E3G, wrote on Twitter. “National security now part of every aspect -- including global climate action!”

Xie wasn’t specific about what assistance China had offered. Beijing cut off all direct communication with Taiwan’s government in 2016 after the election of President Tsai Ing-wen, who holds that the island is a de facto independent nation.

China views Taiwan as a part of its territory and regularly threatens to gain control over it through military means.

Taiwan’s Presidential Office did not immediately respond to request for comment.

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