June 1 (UPI) -- China will stand by its commitment to the Paris climate deal, regardless of the United States' potential withdrawal, the Chinese foreign ministry said Thursday.
Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a briefing Thursday, "Climate change is a global challenge and there is no country that can stay aloof. The Paris accord was a hard-won outcome and it distilled the broadest consensus of international society."
The call to honor the agreement, signed by 195 countries after it was adopted in 2015, came from a number of governments. President Donald Trump is expected to announce later Thursday if the United States will pull out of the pact. Two senior U.S. officials familiar with Trump's plans said Wednesday he is expected to withdraw the United States from the accord.
The agreement calls for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by all involved countries starting in 2020 and other commitments to an international fight against climate change.
Speaking in Berlin, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also affirmed his country's position, saying "China will continue to uphold its commitments to the Paris climate agreement. Step by step and very arduously, together with other countries, we will work told goals set. China actively participated in this process in the past years and joined or signed every agreement concerning this. We say in China, 'Our words count, and our actions must be successful.'"
Li, speaking beside German Chancellor Angela Merkel, added that Beijing was closely following "international developments" on the issue. He did not directly mention Trump.
The European Union is preparing to spend tens of billions on climate-related issues prior to 2020, EU sources said ahead of the planned U.S. announcement Thursday . European President Jean-Claude Juncker stressed that leaving would take "three, four years" for a nation to remove itself from the binding treaty, adding "This means that the illusion that one could simply disappear into thin air, will not happen. The law is the law, and it must be complied with by everyone."
A joint statement by Merkel and Li said China and European countries would "call on all parties to uphold the Paris agreement."