Global Asia Journal


Sanna Kopra


Occasional Paper No. 13

The author is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Tampere, Finland

Document Type



A state’s image is an important resource for wielding national power in global politics. Its prestige and reputation often influence the interactions with other states. As an emerging superpower, China is under pressure to shoulder more responsibility for tackling global climate change. The West has criticized China as a “climate criminal” that threatens global climate stability. In response, the Chinese government implemented a series of comprehensive programs to improve its image abroad. This paper examines China’s national image building in the realm of international climate politics. It draws on the official rhetoric and policy statements to discuss the innovative strategies that China employed to advance its broader diplomatic agendas. By referring to itself as a developing country, China proclaims that it has neither a historical responsibility nor the resources to mitigate climate change, and that it desperately needs the financial and technological support from the West. By employing the rhetoric of being a peace-loving and harmonious nation, China has begun to address the problems of global climate change, even though it refuses to submit to any binding emission reduction targets in the negotiations over a post-Kyoto international climate agreement.