Obama speaks Beijingese

He came; he spoke … he did not conquer. It’s unclear how much impact Obama’s speech (text here) at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen this morning will have in nudging negotiators toward an agreement. I found the most interesting line of his remarks this one: Mitigation.  Transparency.  Financing.  It’s a clear formula — one ...

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US President Barack Obama tours the Great Wall of China in Badaling, outside of Beijing on November 18, 2009. The US president was to wrap up his maiden trip to the world's most populous nation with a bit of tourism -- a visit to the Great Wall, one of China's most treasured landmarks -- before heading to South Korea. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

He came; he spoke ... he did not conquer. It's unclear how much impact Obama's speech (text here) at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen this morning will have in nudging negotiators toward an agreement.

I found the most interesting line of his remarks this one:

He came; he spoke … he did not conquer. It’s unclear how much impact Obama’s speech (text here) at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen this morning will have in nudging negotiators toward an agreement.

I found the most interesting line of his remarks this one:

Mitigation.  Transparency.  Financing.  It’s a clear formula — one that embraces the principle of common but differentiated responses and respective capabilities”

Here he is picking up a favorite bit of Beijing’s own rhetoric, the oft-repeated insistence on “common but differentiated responsibilities.”

The original phrase derives from Kyoto, but it’s been infused with so much meaning in Beijing — basically meaning the rich countries should do more, and poor countries less for now — that one could be forgiven for assuming it was as Chinese as fireworks.

Meantime, the full translated text of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s remarks are here.  

And the FT has linked to a copy of a recent draft of potential agreement here.

Christina Larson is an award-winning foreign correspondent and science journalist based in Beijing, and a former Foreign Policy editor. She has reported from nearly a dozen countries in Asia. Her features have appeared in the New York Times, Wired, Science, Scientific American, the Atlantic, and other publications. In 2016, she won the Overseas Press Club of America’s Morton Frank Award for international magazine writing. Twitter: @larsonchristina

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