MERICS China Essentials
14 min read

Climate + China’s 50th UN anniversary + Property tax

In this issue of the MERICS China Essentials we cover the following topics:

  • China details emissions reduction strategy just days before COP26 
  • China marks 50 years at the UN with criticism of US
  • Property tax pilots announced amidst real estate crackdown and common prosperity drive 
  • VIS-À-VIS: Mathieu Duchâtel: “France still has to persuade Washington that its autonomous action in the Indo-Pacific brings added value to the US strategy”
  • REVIEW: TikTok Boom. China’s Dynamite App and the Superpower Race for Social Media, by Chris Stokel-Walker (Canbury Press, 2021)

You can read a free excerpt of our latest MERICS China Essentials below. 

To get full access to this product, you can subscribe to this publication on an individual basis. For more information, click here

MERICS members also have privileged access to this product. If you want to learn more about our membership model for institutions and businesses, please click here.

China details emissions reduction strategy just days before COP26 

China’s State Council on October 24 released a long-awaited framework for the country to reach its CO2-emissions peak by 2030 and “net zero” emissions by 2060. Released just days ahead of the UN Climate Summit COP26 in Glasgow which starts on October 31, the document is meant to provide the foundation for China’s climate policy for decades to come. It codifies the pledges Beijing made in the last year in one top-level document and defines the path for ancillary policies. After China earlier this year failed to update its UN climate targets, its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), the new document’s main objectives are likely to serve as the country’s new NDCs.

The document is an important signal that China has finally settled on a domestic climate-policy plan – even though Xi is not attending COP26 in person, and is also skipping the preceding October 30-31 G20 Summit in Rome. These absences can be seen as part of a trend among China’s leaders to turn inwards after Covid-19 pressures and in the run-up to next year’s all-important Communist Party Congress. Xi is also preparing for the top-level sixth plenum of the CCP Central Committee in early November, at which he is expected to table a “historical resolution” to cement his legacy as leader of a new era in China’s development.

As the largest emitter of CO2, responsible for over 20 percent of global emissions in 2020, China – like most nations – will have to accelerate decarbonization to maintain the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C. Missing from its emission reduction strategy are detailed timelines, especially beyond 2025, when China’s current Five-Year Plan will end. But as a policy baseline it was always likely to be strategic and unspecific, which means follow-up laws now must quickly give the framework teeth. The first policy, the “China 2030 Carbon Peak Action Plan,” was issued only days after the strategy document and specified the sectoral roll-out of emissions reductions.

MERICS analysis: China’s framework for decarbonization should not be underestimated and will require deep transformations in energy systems and every industry. But to limit global warming 1.5 °C, more needs to be done in China.

More on the topic: Read a recent interview on China’s climate policies with MERICS Senior Analyst Nis Grünberg published by Debate.Energy.

Media coverage and sources:


USD 103 billion

The value of export licenses issued by the US over six months for shipments to Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and chipmaker SMIC, even though both remain on a trade blacklist initially drawn up by the Trump administration. Most of the 301 approvals given by the Commerce Department between November 2020 and April 2021 reportedly did not cover sensitive items. But their number and volume suggest “decoupling” the US and Chinese economies will be a slow process. (Source: Reuters)