Members of a U.S. congressional delegation have expressed widely divergent views
on prospects for US-China cooperation to combat climate change - an issue they
all agree is urgent. Meanwhile, although climate change topped the agenda,
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi says she raised the
issue of human rights in her meetings this week with top Chinese leaders.
"The impact of climate change has a tremendous effect, in the United States, in China and throughout the world," Pelosi said. "We do not have that much time or margin for error. We must come to agreement. We must act."
Speaker Pelosi is the third-highest ranking person in the U.S. government. The Chinese leaders she met with this week included President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.
Democratic Congressman Ed Markey said he is optimistic the United States and China will be able to work together before a global climate change summit in Copenhagen at the end of the year.
"We leave here encouraged that progress can be made, heading towards Copenhagen," Markey said. "And we hope that in the months ahead, we can work cooperatively together, in order to bring the world to a point in December where we can achieve the agreement which will help to reverse the catastrophic consequences of climate change."
This upbeat viewpoint was not embraced by the entire delegation. Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner said he was very discouraged.
"It is business as usual for China," Sensenbrenner said. "The message that I received is that China was going to do it their way, regardless of what the rest of the world negotiates in Copenhagen."
There was one area for bipartisan agreement, though, and that was on human rights, an issue for which Pelosi is known as an outspoken champion.
She defended herself against questions about whether the human rights issue has been downplayed this trip.
"Eighteen years ago, I stood on Tiananmen Square with a banner," Pelosi recalled. "That was my opportunity to express the concern that I, as a member of Congress, had for human rights in China and Tibet. I am now Speaker of the House, and have an opportunity to speak directly to the president of China, to bring up the subject on behalf of the entire Congress."
She says other issues were also raised, including North Korea, intellectual property and national security. She says in all cases, the conversation was "candid," and that both sides, in her words, "spoke in friendship." She leaves Beijing for Hong Kong Friday.