Washington’s deeds need to match its words

In a Saturday interview with MSNBC, John Kerry, United States President Joe Biden's special envoy for climate change, again emphasized the need for climate cooperation with China.

For all the tensions between the two countries, the US must collaborate with China so as to fulfill global climate goals, said the former US secretary of state.

In the interview, Kerry highlighted the recent China-US consensus that climate change is a global, rather than bilateral, issue that should be treated separately from other bilateral concerns. The two countries "must find a way" to work together on the impending global crisis, according to Kerry.

Two days prior to that, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen laid out her vision of economic engagement with China in a speech at Johns Hopkins University, warning economic decoupling would be disastrous for the US and China, as well as the world at large.

Like Kerry, Yellen conceded China-US relations are "clearly at a tense moment". But, like Kerry, she also argued that is precisely why the two governments must collaborate going forward.

And, echoing the Chinese side's saying that the Pacific is broad enough to accommodate both China and the US, Yellen told her Johns Hopkins audience she and President Biden "believe that the world is big enough for both of us". "China and the United States can and need to find a way to live together and share in global prosperity," she said.

Criticizing some for seeing the bilateral relationship "through the frame of great power conflict: a zero-sum, bilateral contest where one must fall for the other to rise", the US Treasury chief said her government seeks "a constructive and fair economic relationship with China"-"one that fosters growth and innovation in both countries".

Also, like Kerry, she reiterated the need for bilateral cooperation on the urgent global challenges of our day, among which she highlighted developing nations' "debt distress" and climate change, regardless of the disagreements between the two countries.

Kerry and Yellen's latest remarks on China-US engagement sound quite sensible when it comes to the need for preventing the relationship from getting confrontational, which has been a core concern on Beijing's part.

Such remarks will no doubt resonate well on this side of the Pacific, where concerns about the trajectory of the two countries' relationship run deep. But, actual moves would be better than any words in convincing Beijing of Washington's sincerity.

If the two governments could work together to address climate change and collaborate to build a constructive and fair economic relationship, they could do no greater good for the two peoples and those around the world.