Two powerful progressive political groups disagree over China

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China played the Western world’s concerns over climate change like Tom Brady on Superbowl Sunday. Now they have succeeded in pitting saving the planet against Washington’s human rights concerns in Xinjiang. Who will win?

Make no mistake about it, after about a decade of hearing about C02 emissions leading to global warming and how Washington and Brussels would slowly eradicate fossil fuels from their transportation and power grid, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) knew what it took to be finished. They called on private and public companies to get involved in mining the metals that go into your Tesla

TSLA
drums. About 44 of their Goldwind turbines are spinning across the United States as we speak, with most of them installed in 2020, based on data from the Global Wind Energy Council. China has dominated the global solar supply chain and killed the European solar industry. The US solar industry has come back, oddly enough, thanks to the imposed tariffs by which some have called former President Donald Trump a climate change skeptic. They were also aided by an anti-dumping verdict against China at the Commerce Ministry. And the demand for solar continues here at home. Without these things, China would be America’s version of a solar OPEC.

Still, unhappy with an approximately 80% US market share for solar panels (and an almost 100% market share of the supply of polysilicon, a key ingredient in the manufacture of solar panels). solar cells), China wants more. Tariffs bar his way. And so are the human rights violations of Uyghur Muslims in the far west province of Xinjiang.

Why?

Xinjiang was home to about 50% of China’s polysilicon production. A major player there, Hoshine Silicon, is banned by customs from the US supply chain. So any finished solar cell or panel made with Hoshine supplies ends up somewhere in a US port. The ban is due to the forced labor violations of Uyghur prison labor, which is said to take place in Hoshine.

Two causes of the Democratic Party are now opposed: climate change and human rights.

Nancy Pelosi recently kicked this debate into high gear when she said it was important to work with China on climate change despite their “continuation of the genocide of the Uyghurs”. (This Twitter account has the video dated September 16.)

Pelosi said it before, in 2009 actually. It was only then that the newly elected Obama State Department did not say that China was committing genocide against minorities like it is doing now.

Shortly after Pelosi said working with China on climate change was too important to ignore, the PA published this article: “Advocates fear the United States weighs the climate over human rights in China ”.

It would be “disastrous in the long run for the United States government to back down, to moderate itself, to let the Chinese handle the problem,” said Nury Turkel, a Uyghur advocate and vice chairman of the United States Commission on Human Rights. International Religious Freedom, a panel advisory body that makes policy recommendations to the White House and Congress.

It should be noted that on September 3, White House climate czar John Kerry was informed by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that the two sides must end their trade war to work together on climate change. . The Chinese diplomat said, specifically, that Beijing needs to see “positive steps” – which of course means ending tariffs and trade bans on strategic industries, including the tariff ban on polysilicon from China. Hoshine. Why not ?

Shortly after Kerry’s meeting in China, President Biden said he wanted solar power to grow from about 4% of the US energy grid to 40% in 30 years.

It’s a long time away, but China doesn’t think quarterly. China is looking back at 100 years. Thirty years is nothing. Thirty years ago, China made Happy Meal toys and pedaled Schwinn bikes to work in the rain. Today they own your kids’ smartphone time and can tell Hollywood star John Cena what to do.

China must see a big opening in Biden’s statement. They know that if Biden is to achieve this goal, then Beijing can offer help, “but let’s stop fighting for these Uyghurs.” And, of course, “let’s forget about solar tariffs and save the planet together”.

That this story comes from a country that built more coal-fired power plants in 2020 than any nation on earth, and generates 70% of its electricity from coal, should not be lost on the types of crisis climate. But for some reason it is.

Solar made in China potentially comes from the polysilicon of forced labor. The solar cells that go into solar panels are made in coal factories.

Chinese multinationals have shifted their supply to Southeast Asia. JA Solar is in Malaysia. Jinko Solar is spending $ 500 million on a new installation in Vietnam. Think about how much money there is in Vietnam.

On Monday, September 28, 12 Democratic senators sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo about solar companies there. In it, they warned that if his department went ahead and imposed new tariffs on Chinese multinationals in Southeast Asia, it would “put (solar deployment goals) at risk given the emphasis by administration on solar energy as the main solution to fight against climate change ”.

It is clear that the American solar industry cannot produce all of the solar energy that the United States needs. But which US-based company, including Jinko Solar in Florida and a new Canadian company relocating to New York on the Pennsylvania border, will want to increase production and investment if it is to compete with environmental regulation products? from Southeast Asia?

The 12 senators, including Sheldon Whitehouse from the home state of Raimondo, Rhode Island, even noted in their letter that in the first half of 2021, solar imports from Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam were 80 percent percent. of all solar panel imports and 59% of the total US panel supply.

According to them, a higher tariff on these products would crush demand. They argued the same way when global solar tariffs and China-specific anti-dumping tariffs were imposed. But solar continued to grow with installations up 43% in 2020. Prices have not skyrocketed, as this New Yorker article highlighted in April.

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In theory, human rights in Xinjiang should be the issue of national security for Democrats. Instead, they are largely torn between those traditional liberal principles and building the post-fossil fuel economy at high speed.

This fits perfectly with the ambitions of Beijing’s wise economic planners and lobby groups representing Chinese importers and solar installation companies. They are trying to convince Washington that they need China and its solar behemoths in Southeast Asia to meet Biden’s post-fossil fuel economy goals.

And so in a very strange sense, President Xi has become America’s smoky bear climate policy – “Only Xi can prevent global warming.”

Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA) does not want to rely on China. “We are heavily dependent on Chinese supply chains marred by forced Uyghur labor to produce this solar power generation capacity,” he said on September 23.

Ossoff advocates making more solar cells and solar panels here. He is pushing for a number of policies to make this happen.

There are other bills in the Senate that also seek to ban imports from Xinjiang, due to human rights violations.

“The CCP runs a massive system of labor camps in Xinjiang. These facts are confirmed by testimonies from former camp detainees, satellite images, media reports and leaked government documents, as reported in the report. New York Times“Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) said in a letter to Biden on Tuesday.” We fear that Mr. Kerry is downplaying the significance of the genocide precisely because he has l plan to import solar panels that are produced using forced labor… in order to meet your administration’s climate goals.

“Republicans and Democrats are united in fighting the CCP’s ongoing crimes, including genocide,” they wrote to Biden. “History will judge us by how we respond. We hope you will join us in supporting the oppressed.

So who is more oppressed: Uyghurs or Earth?

If it’s Earth bad for Uyghurs, so much the better for Beijing, not so good for American solar manufacturers.

The sales pitch for those who want to sell more here is the fear of the planet in peril argument. They will save us, but Washington will need to be flexible with China and its southern partners to do so. Otherwise, prices will go up, everything will explode. The planet will suffer.

Human rights, meanwhile, will have to disguise themselves and get to the back of the bus.

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