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Dec. 8, 2014

Getting the Ball Rolling

by Jacob Popper, Op/Ed Editor
China has the largest population of any country in the world, the second largest economy and a very complicated relationship with the United States. The two countries have very different ideologies, and incidents of cyber warfare and spying among the countries are common. However, they remain very interdependent: the United States is China's largest trading partner and China is the U.S.'s second largest partner behind Canada. After a series of meetings in Beijing in early November, the two countries made several strides toward a more productive relationship that will benefit the world at large.

The first and most significant agreement was a pledge from the United States to cut CO2 emission levels by 26-28 percent by 2025 and for China to cap emission growth by 2030, which means that the Chinese will not allow emissions to continue growing past 2030. In 2011, the U.S. and China accounted for 44 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, meaning that if both nations comply, it could have a significant impact on our environmental future. Not only that, but the agreement will also hopefully create momentum for other countries to start cutting their emissions as well. Getting the world’s largest polluter to finally agree to some sort of emissions restrictions is a giant leap in the right direction and a victory for president Obama and the world.

Next, the countries agreed to remove tariffs on information technology products. This deal, while only a stepping stone to a larger deal on information technology products that must be approved by the World Trade Organization, is still a major movement towards a world where technological advancements will spread more easily and cheaply. The deal also has large economic implications. China is the largest exporter of information technology products and cutting tariffs will only increase China’s ability to sell. For the United States, the Obama administration projects that the deal will create as many as 60,000 jobs at home. More Americans at work plus more information around the world is yet another victory for Obama and planet Earth.

Finally, the United States and China agreed to new visa regulations that will promote tourism and create jobs. Chinese tourists can now get visas that last ten years as opposed to one, and students will now have access to five year visas, also increased from the previous length of one year. The move will certainly increase tourism in the United States, as we will draw a larger share of the 100 million Chinese citizens that travel abroad each year. It will also generate many jobs. According to the White House, the increase in tourism will create up to 440 thousand jobs by 2021, as well as $85 billion in revenue.

While the U.S.-China relationship is still far from perfect, these meetings were a step in the right direction towards a world where the two most powerful countries work together to combat issues like global warming, and also partner economically to spread prosperity.

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