By Mark Simpson
BBC News, Beijing
Panda bears are an emblem of nature in China
The Chinese foreign ministry has ridiculed Vice President Joe Biden’s reported apology for the US failing to commit to a deal at the climate change summit in Katowice.
He reportedly said America “simply didn’t have the political will” to make a commitment.
It came as the world is running out of time to deliver a global climate deal.
The EU has threatened to withdraw from the Paris Agreement unless a new deal is agreed.
Three months of diplomatic wrangling are still to come before delegates in Katowice in Poland.
From Beijing came a swift and unusual response to a comments made by the US vice president as he landed in Katowice.
“The US – principally because it is our largest economy – simply didn’t have the political will to join in Katowice,” he was quoted as saying.
“I believe other countries did,” he continued. “I’m just saying the US simply did not have the political will.”
But on Sunday evening, the Chinese foreign ministry labelled Mr Biden’s remarks “unwarranted” and said they exposed the US as “a country out of touch with reality”.
“It should be known that this is the first time an American vice president has apologized to a Chinese official for not signing an international agreement,” it said in a statement.
Chinese officials also said President Xi Jinping had played an important role in guiding Mr Biden through the talks and said the US president “did his best to cooperate and to meet international commitments” at the talks.
China is currently the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases and is increasingly under fire from many of its peers to do more to reduce the emissions that cause climate change.
A lack of US leadership on climate change is one reason the other two leading economic powers – Europe and China – have stepped forward to take the lead in combating global warming.