BEIJING (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged China on Monday to do more to halt climate change, prompting the response that the developed West has been polluting the skies for much longer than the newly developing Chinese.
Merkel is on her second visit to China as chancellor and the trip comes four months before world environment ministers meet in Bali to try to launch new talks to extend the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012.
She pressed for stronger protection of intellectual property rights and said the ground rules for gathering resources should be the same worldwide, an apparent criticism of China’s relations with Sudan.
China has sizeable economic interests in Sudan and has been under pressure to take a more critical approach to Khartoum after accusations aid from Beijing feeds violence in Darfur.
Premier Wen Jiabao said China would do everything it could to fight product piracy but that there were differences concerning climate change.
“The Chinese wish, like all people, for blue skies, green hills and clear water,” he told a joint news conference.
“China’s development is an opportunity, not a threat,” he said earlier.
He said the task of reducing emissions was tougher in China than in Germany because it had more people and had not yet reached economic growth of industrialized countries in terms of GDP per capita.
“China has taken part of the responsibility for climate change for only 30 years while industrial countries have grown fast for the last 200 years,” he said.
Wen also responded to recent news reports that Chinese hackers had infected German government ministries with spying programs. The Der Spiegel magazine said top German ministries, including Merkel’s office, had been infected by the attack.
“We in the government took it as a matter of grave concern,” Wen said of the report. “Hackers breaking into and sabotaging computers is a problem faced by the entire world.”
He told reporters that China would take “firm and effective action” to prevent hacking attacks.
Merkel also met President Hu Jintao later on Monday and she heads to Japan on Wednesday where she will also address climate change and economic issues.
Merkel told Hu that their two countries needed to work together in human rights, intellectual property protection and climate change, as well as trade.
At a June summit chaired by Merkel, G8 leaders agreed to pursue substantial, if unspecified cuts, in greenhouse gases and work with the U.N. on a new deal to fight global warming.
The Kyoto Protocol obliges 35 rich nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but developing nations including China have no targets. China will overtake the United States by 2008 as the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases.
China is overtaking the United States as the world’s second-biggest exporter and steadily catching up with Germany, the world’s biggest.