11/14/14 07:27 PM ET
BEIJING –- President Barack Obama had barely finished shaking Chinese President Xi Jinping’s hand to seal this week’s landmark climate agreement before the predictable responses poured in from Washington. Congressional Republican leaders called the agreement “job-crushing” and part of the president’s “war on coal” that was “creating havoc” around the U.S. When Xi stepped from the rostrum, he faced no obstinate opposition party and virtually no public criticism of the agreement. That silence presents the image of a bureaucracy prepared to fall in line and spring into action, but “nothing could be further from the truth,” according to David Lampton, director of China studies at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and author of a recent book on Chinese political leadership.
“The coal industry accounts for 60-plus percent of China's energy, and entire provinces, cities, industries, and bureaucracies are economically dependent on this dirty energy source,” Lampton told The WorldPost in an email. “Interest groups in China don’t all welcome a fundamental restructuring of the energy economy any more than do analogous American groups.”