Neven - if we consider how Cheney set up a 'Brinkmanship of Inaction' with China over AGW - effectively a game of mega-chicken about who can ignore climate destabilization the longest - then it can be observed from the records that China's policy shifted radically in response.
Before 2,000, the US had been a relatively constructive partner in global negotiations and had got as far as agreeing and signing Kyoto. Since 2,000, whatever could be done to obstruct and undermine negotiations has been done, while at home both Bush and his successor have massively encouraged fossil fuel extraction not least by direct taxpayers' subsidy.
While China has no such record of obstructing or undermining the negotiations, the curve of its coal emissions turned steeply uphill from 2000 onwards. In rejecting the US 'deal' at Copenhagen, (whereby each American would have had about three times the emissions rights of each Chinese in 2050) it was adamantly refusing to cry uncle. It plays the game that the US instigated as best it can, but it also shows serious interest both in an equitable and efficient binding climate treaty, as well as in regulatory measures such as trialling carbon pricing before a national roll-out, as well as in non-fossil energy production technology.
The stakes of the brinkmanship are nothing less than which nation will secure global economic dominance - which has of course been the paramount bipartisan policy priority of the US establishment since WW2. If the looming crop failures in China generate shortages leading to civil unrest and regime change, then America will celebrate a 'win', potentially without a shot fired, as happened in Moscow. OTOH, Cheney's policy was founded on the conventional wisdom of the day, which held that developing nations, like China, would be hit so much harder by climate impacts than developed nations, like America, and being wealthy the latter would be far better able to afford the damage costs. Both of these assumptions have proven 180 degrees wrong, just 13 years later. The outcome is thus far from clear, and the dangers are not simply climatic, but also of geopolitical destabilisation.
As has been said quite often, diplomacy is merely war pursued by other means.
From this perspective, China's public declaration of interest in using the direct polar route is merely hardball as usual - while US diplomats are in Bonn demanding that the 2015 deal should consist of only those cuts that nations feel are appropriate for them - i.e. no reflection of cumulative emissions, no global carbon budget, no framework for allocating national emission rights, just the guesswork of a fig-leaf Kyoto 2. Given that many nations wouldn't accept such a farce, in 2016 the republican presidential candidate would then have the pleasure of repeating Bush's stump line: "It ain't global and it won't work!", knowing that whether he wins or loses, the brinkmanship of inaction would continue.
Finding the means to persuade either party to step beyond their mutual disablement is something people have been working on for 13 years. Personally I think that its exposure to the general public is long overdue, as the sense of public outrage from recognizing that climate is being worsened merely for national dominance games is liable to be of highly potent effect in both countries.
Normal programming will resume shortly, when some poor gull will doubtless strike up the chorus that "Poor Obama can't do nothing 'cos of that nasty ol' fosul fule lobby" - that raises just 8% of US GDP. . . .
All the best,