Open Letter to President Xi Jinping on the Climate Crisis


  • Graham PARKES University of Vienna, Austria



classical Chinese philosophy, climate, extreme weather, politics, Xi Jinping


Although climate models predict that global heating will prove more devastating for China than for many other countries, and economic models have shown that a transition to a low-carbon economy would strengthen China in the long run, the Chinese leadership has failed to reduce fossil fuel consumption enough to avoid extremes of weather that are devastating the country. Not long after becoming president, Xi Jinping announced a project to ground “socialism with Chinese characteristics” in selected ideas from ancient Chinese philosophy and culture, promoting the agenda through quotations in his speeches from the Chinese classics, and especially Confucian and Daoist thought. These ideas turn out to be perfectly suited for a ‘reframing’ of worldviews that is required for thinking more productively about the climate crisis and developing political measures for dealing with it effectively.

However, the Chinese leadership has failed to live up to its inspiring words, and has instead reverted to aggressive and repressive policies that are more in line with Chinese Legalism and Stalinism than with the Confucian, Daoist, and Marxist ideas that Xi Jinping has advocated. This has dealt a severe blow to China’s standing in the world and caused a huge loss of ‘soft power’ accumulated by previous regimes. With the United States in a shambles, the way is open for China to follow through on its promotion of traditional Chinese philosophy and take the lead, for the sake of the long-term well-being of its own people, in tackling the climate crisis—and thereby gain the greatest soft power triumph in history.


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16. 05. 2023

How to Cite

Parkes, Graham. 2023. “Open Letter to President Xi Jinping on the Climate Crisis”. Asian Studies 11 (2): 233-43.

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