Many developed countries are taken aback by China's tough stance at the UN Climate Change summit in Copenhagen. It is demanding countries like the United States and Europe to cut their emissions targets further, and to handover technology to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries.
China's chief negotiator Xie Zhenhua was quite blunt about the west's "unambitious and deceptive" emissions targets. "Given the fact that developed countries have done nothing but empty talk, they have no right to make further requests," he said Monday.
His sharp tone might be compounded by the fact that he was refused admission into the conference three times despite having the proper badges. Or do all Chinese look the same to westerners?
At the same time Su Wei, China's No. 2 negotiator, dismissed the US' $10 billion a year contribution to a fund to help developing countries from 2010.
"This $10 billion, if divided by the world population, it is less than $2 per person," he said, adding it was not even enough to buy a cup of coffee in Copenhagen or a coffin in poor regions in the world. "Climate change is a matter of life and death," he said.
However, China is the country with over $2 trillion in reserves... surely it can afford to buy the green technology.
All this posturing and strong language may be part of China's strategy to either push developed nations to really do more than they are offering now, or to show the world how it has the power to push previously strong nations into obeying China's wishes.
Perhaps the Chinese negotiators are playing to a domestic audience to prove China's rise; or they are setting up for Premier Wen Jiabao's appearance at the climate change summit where he will address the delegates and prepare them for more stern words.
One can only wait and see.