Chinese officials have promised to play a positive role in this month’s UN environment summit, but stressed the needs of their country’s poor in an apparent move to dampen hopes for major concessions.
The comments added to signs that the June 20-22 meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, might face political obstacles to any significant agreements.
US president Barack Obama, in the midst of a re-election campaign, and European leaders have withdrawn from the meeting.
Du Ying, a deputy chairman of China’s planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, said: “China still is a developing country.
“We need to strike a balance between the economy and social development, growth of population and the use of resources and the environment.”
China is the world’s biggest energy consumer and source of climate-changing greenhouse gases. Beijing is promoting use of renewable energy and has promised to curb harmful emissions, but has rejected binding limits, citing its development needs.
Beijing “attaches great importance” to the meeting and hopes for “positive results,” Mr Du said.
A key fear among developing countries is that the summit’s environmental agenda might lead to pressure for measures that might hamper economic development.
Mr Du and other officials at the news conference gave no indication what concessions Beijing might offer.
Negotiations over a final statement to be issued at the conclusion of the meeting have broken down amid squabbling. Organisers have scheduled one more round of talks in hopes of reaching agreement before the meeting.
The conference is the follow-up to the 1992 Earth Summit, also in Rio, that helped put climate change on the world agenda.
Climate is such a divisive topic that this year’s conference will focus instead on the more palatable topic of sustainable development.
In a report on its sustainable development efforts, the Chinese government said the Rio meeting should clarify how rich countries will provide financial support and technology to help developing economies.