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Left to warn Biden that being tough on Chinese human rights could harm global warming effort

A  progressive-led letter is expected to hit President Biden’s desk Thursday attempting to temper the administration’s confrontational approach when it comes to China, for the sake of climate change.

Tensions between the U.S. and China reached heightened levels under Donald Trump, but the Biden administration has done little to mollify relations.

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A group of more than 40 progressive organizations fear that issues like an increasingly hardline approach to the Uyghur genocide and human rights abuses in Hong Kong could jeopardize another big-ticket item for the Biden presidency – ending climate change, first reported Politico.

In a letter obtained by the Washington, D.C.-based outlet, the organizations are calling on Biden and Congress “to eschew the dominant antagonistic approach to U.S.-China relations and instead prioritize multilateralism, diplomacy, and cooperation with China to address the existential threat that is the climate crisis.”

“Nothing less than the future of our planet depends on ending the new Cold War between the United States and China,” the letter continues. “To combat the climate crisis and build a global economy that works for everyday working people — in the U.S. and China alike — we must shift from competition to cooperation.”

The letter from groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists reflects a division within the Democratic Party.

Moderate Democratic members of Congress have pushed the administration to be tough on China and reject human rights abuses while addressing climate change at home. 

But the party’s more leftist members argue addressing climate change in the U.S. is not enough.

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Biden has said the chilly U.S.-China relationship is ultimately a “battle between the utility of democracies in the 21st century and autocracies,” suggesting the president may be unwilling to back off hardline policies and sanctions placed on China.

Even as the president pushes the U.S. to embrace climate-friendly initiatives, materials imported from China for the construction of solar panels were banned last month over allegations of forced labor. 

And special presidential climate envoy John Kerry has made it clear the U.S. will consider pushing China on climate-based policies with or without its cooperation. 

Kerry said the U.S. was “examining” how carbon taxes could work if China failed to make progress on lowering its greenhouse gas emissions.  

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“Our preference would be that every country is joining in in a fair manner in its efforts to reduce emissions sufficiently, that we’re all paying the price of avoiding the consequences of the global climate crisis,” Kerry told reporters in May.

“That includes, obviously, major emitting nations in the world. We all know who they are.”