Presidents Xi and Obama also jointly announced the creation of a cap-and-trade program in China, a move designed to build momentum for a strong agreement to confront global warming when world leaders meet in Paris later this year for United Nations climate talks. It’s slated to launch in 2017.
China has long been seen as a laggard in tackling the threat of global warming, but the U.S. and China—two of the world’s largest contributors to the greenhouse gases driving global warming—now appear ready to use their outsized influence to confront climate change worldwide. The White House has been working hard to extract climate commitments from China. Last November, China and the U.S. agreed to a historic pledge to curb greenhouse-gas emissions driving dangerous global warming.
Obama mentioned China’s economic status during his remarks Friday. He said that even though parts of China still require development, it can no longer be treated “as if it’s still a very poor and developing country.” Rather, he said, it’s now a “powerhouse” that has “responsibilities.”
Asked by a Chinese reporter if China’s growth adversely affects America, Xi noted that the United States has “incomparable advantages and strengths.” But he said the world must move beyond viewing global economics as a “zero-sum game.” China’s development benefits the U.S. and the entire world, Xi said, as U.S. growth benefits China and other nations.
The two presidents’ press conference comes just hours after news that House Speaker John Boehner will resign from his position effective Oct. 30. Obama said that the news took him by surprise and that he had called Boehner just before the press conference. The president praised the speaker as “a good man” and “a patriot.” Obama declined to “prejudge who the next speaker will be.” He said he hopes there is “a recognition on the part of the next speaker ... that we can have significant differences on issues but that doesn’t mean you shut down the government.”
Obama and Boehner aren’t exactly buds: The speaker defied the White House earlier this year when he arranged a visit from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint meeting of Congress. He’s also routinely clashed with the administration on Obamacare and budget concerns, including with lawsuits. But Boehner faced criticism from members of his own caucus for engaging in talks with the president as they tried to hammer out a “Grand Bargain” on the nation’s debt back in 2011.
“When you have divided government, when you have a democracy, compromise is necessary,” Obama said Friday. “And I think Speaker Boehner sometimes had difficulty persuading members of his caucus [of] that.”
Speaking about the challenges that Boehner faced, Obama said: “You don’t get what you want 100 percent of the time. Sometimes you take half a loaf, sometimes you take a quarter loaf. That’s certainly something that I’ve learned here in this office.”