China likes to cast itself in the role of the underdog on the international stage, a role that will become increasingly untenable as its impact on global affairs increases.
Global climate change is Beijing’s preferred backdrop to play its role as the earnest, well-meaning kid being picked on by the playground bullies.
Today, the Foreign Ministry cried foul again, calling industrialized nations hypocrites for setting up factories in China and then complaining about the pollution.
China’s basic premise is that current global warming is the result of the past two centuries of Western industrialization, so it should not be blamed for what’s happening now. As far as China is concerned, blame rests squarely on the West, and attempts to cast China as a culprit are morally and scientifically wrong.
But Beijing will find it more difficult to take this tack in the future. Already, it’s been fingered as the world’s top CO2 emitter, claiming the top spot from the US. That’s a title that will stick, no matter how often they try to shake it off by complaining about bullying and hypocrisy.