When I was in China, my Chinese students and colleagues never wanted to recognize that their country would soon surpass Japan as the second-largest economy in the world.  This inevitability is now a reality, as reported today.  While culturally the Chinese are not ones to take credit, from an imternational relations and foreign policy standpoint, the country is somehwhat weary of this status.  With such economic prowess, it is much harder to limit international obligation and responsibility, especially when those arguments often rest on the the lack of economic prosperity for much of the country.  While the vast majority of Chinese are most certainly poor, the Chinese recognize their growing status in the world and the Chinese government will want to continue to be seen as a global power.  Thus, the time is now for the U.S. become a real global leader on environmental issues because the Chinese are perceived as economic superpowers, and the failure to join the U.S. in a leadership role could be seen as embarrassing.  Now is the time for the U.S. to lead and challenge the Chinese to be more than leader of the developing world, which is often the fall back description of their country.  China and the U.S. are the two largest emitters of greenhouse emissions, and both need to act.  Unfortunately, U.S. domestic and international policy has failed in terms of environmental and economic policies to help improve international carbon emissions and pollution due manufacturing in the developing world.  The constructive critism of U.S. policy can be spread around–the U.S. Senate, the President at Copenhagen, American consumption patterns, the interstate highway system, etc.

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