John Kerry, US President Joe Biden's special climate envoy, said earlier this month that the US does not seek to confront China on climate issues, as no country can resolve the climate crisis alone.
So the reports that he will visit Shanghai this week to meet with Xie Zhenhua, China's special representative for climate change affairs, with whom he has been "in touch", and with whom he worked in 2015 to help secure the Paris Agreement, has raised anticipation that the world's two largest carbon emitters will resume their discussions on climate change actions, which had been halted by the previous US administration.
If it goes ahead, it will be the first official visit to China by a senior Biden administration official and the tone of the discussions will be significant, as the visit comes less than a month after the feisty exchanges in the face-to-face meeting between senior Chinese and US diplomats in Alaska, sparked by the superciliousness displayed by the US secretary of state and the national security advisor.
Since the top Chinese and US leaders stressed Sino-US cooperation on climate issues when they talked on the phone in February, the two sides have made joint efforts to put the two leaders' consensus into practice. Despite the public spat between the top diplomats of the two countries in their Anchorage meeting in March, it has been reported that the two sides are establishing a joint working group on climate change.
Climate change remains one of the few fields, at least in the eyes of the United States administration, where the interests of the US overlap with those of China, and the two can work together to prove that the US has not been enslaved by its divergences with China, as Biden has said.
A veteran diplomat who values face-to-face personal diplomacy to reach consensus, Kerry's meeting with Xie, an old acquaintance known for his to-the-point pragmatism, is a configuration that promises more cordial discussions between the two sides than those in Alaska. That would be a positive development, as so far the Biden administration's interactions with Beijing have been prickly to say the least.
If the two sides can put their climate discussions on the right track, it would accord with the expectations and interests of the whole world, and contribute to the success of the Leaders Summit on Climate that the US president is planning to host on April 22 and 23.
There is no reason why they can't have productive discussions if they divorce their climate talks from the current tensions in Sino-US relations, and doing so would provide an opportunity to see the potential of cooperation.
Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of the Sino-US "ping-pong diplomacy", and people from both sides have commemorated it, not only out of a sense of nostalgia, but also in the hope that the two countries can show more vision and flexibility so they can work together rather than locking horns.
The two sides should take the opportunity of "climate diplomacy" to join hands again for the common good of the two peoples and the world.