China in Your Hand


China in Your Hand
© Marshii.P9


The entire planet is experiencing dynamic climate change, with record-breaking temperatures cooking the Northern Hemisphere. This holds true for China. But as China’s climate has changed over the years, the country has also changed, so our approach to China must change, too.

Over the past few decades, China has achieved strong economic growth, considerable prosperity and an impressive reduction in poverty. However, these developments are in stark contrast with civil and political rights abuses and environmental issues.

In 2022, China endured the longest period of heat and drought since records began. This year, the heat was surpassed once again. This follows a long, steadily worsening trend. According to official data from the National Meteorological Administration, the average surface temperature in China has risen by 0.26 degrees every decade between 1951 and 2021, while the rest of the world averaged only 0.15 degrees per decade over the same period. 

“Climate change is now a familiar concept in China as well, but I doubt the general public knows that climate change is caused by human activities,” said scientist Li Zhao, Greenpeace’s Beijing-based representative. 

Three years ago, State and Party leader Xi Jinping announced that China would reach the maximum level of its carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and become climate-neutral by 2060 (Beijing’s “30/60” target). While the first goal seems feasible, many are still skeptical about whether the country will achieve the second. 

However, China recently unveiled Shandong Province Dongying City Offshore Wind Power Industrial Park, the world’s largest offshore wind turbine. The project will be fundamental to propelling China’s energy transition and accelerating the reach of the “30/60” target.

The announcement came in July. In the same month, Germany’s government released its first comprehensive strategy on China. The paper says: “We have to deal with the challenges China is posing and at the same time continue to seek and strengthen exchange and cooperation with China. China remains an indispensable partner for us in climate change mitigation, in resolving the debt crises of individual countries, and thus also in ensuring global stability. China is simultaneously a systemic rival, competitor and partner.” 

In 1987, only nine years after the Chinese reform and opening-up policy, the first KFC opened in Beijing and in the same year the English pop group T’Pau released their ballad “China in Your Hand.”

T’Pau took its name from a Vulcan character in the sci-fi series Star Trek. Later in the franchise, the most famous Vulcan, Mr. Spock, says to Captain Kirk, who is reluctant to lead peace negotiations with Earth’s arch enemies the Klingons, “Only Nixon could go to China.” This “old Vulcan proverb” refers to U.S. President Richard Nixon’s 1972 visit to China, where he met with Chairman Mao Zedong, implying that it took a president with unassailable, hardline anti-communist credentials to boldly go where no president had gone before without alienating voters on either side of the aisle.

Today, we all have it in our own hands to go to China and indeed we should be hand in hand with China. After all, climate change is a global phenomenon that cannot be tackled by one country alone. All nations must work together to find the best sustainable solutions.

STAY SuSTAYnable!  

Apu Gosalia is a sustainability expert. He can be reached at

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Asia    China    Region    Sustainability