In the sandstone desert of the far west of China, a local meteorological station recorded an all-time high temperature of 126 degrees. In central China, heat-related mechanical problems trapped tourists riding a cable car in the air.

The heat wave suffocating China is so intense that it even became a recurring talking point for John Kerry, President Biden’s special envoy for climate change, as he met with China’s premier on Tuesday in Beijing to discuss cooperation on slowing global warming.

“You and I know things are changing,” Mr. Kerry told the prime minister, Li Qiang, sitting in the Great Hall of the People, on the edge of Tiananmen Square. He mentioned the reports about the temperature in the western region of Xinjiang on Sunday; a commentator at the meteorological association of China had called it the highest he knew of in the country.

“In recent weeks, scientists have expressed greater concern than ever about what is happening on the planet,” said Mr. Kerry, who also met separately with Wang Yi, China’s top foreign policy official.

Indeed, the Chinese capital itself offered yet more evidence of the urgency to fight climate change: Tuesday was the 27th day this year that Beijing recorded temperatures above 35 Celsius, or 95 degrees Fahrenheit — the most days in a year. since records began. .

The heat wave, which has engulfed much of northwest China, as well as parts of the northeast and southwest, is part of a cycle of exceptional heat worldwide. A large swath of the United States is also bracing for record temperatures. Experts have called several days in early July probably the hottest in Earth’s modern history.

Mr Kerry said he hoped China would slow its rapid expansion of coal plants and reduce its use of methane, a greenhouse gas. China has resisted taking those steps, arguing that it is a developing country that must continue to use fossil fuels to support its economic development. Mr Kerry’s visit to Beijing this week marked the resumption of climate talks between the US and China, the world’s biggest polluters, which had been on hold since August.

In China, average surface temperatures in the country have risen faster than the global average since the early 20th century, according to the calculation. report this month from the National Climate Center of China. Last year, as the country was hit by another extended heat wave, China recorded its most “extreme high temperature events” since 1961. Leaders have suggested that heat could threaten China’s food security.

A study published in April in the journal Nature Communications identified the area around Beijing as one of the most at risk in the world for extreme heat.

The rising temperatures officials said have begun two weeks earlier than usual this year, has already made a toll. Beijing, which in late June recorded its first three consecutive days above 104 degrees, has reported at least two heat deaths this summer; one was a 48-year-old tour guide who died after leading a group of children through the Summer Palace. State media also reported deaths in Hebei, Guangdong and Zhejiang provinces.

In central Henan province last week, tourists riding cable cars in a mountainous area were captured air for 10 minutes, after the heat caused mechanical problems, according to state media. Officials warned of possible power shortages after demand for air conditioning led to extended blackouts last year in parts of the country. Last week, six power plants along the Yangtze River broke records for generating extra electricity, over and above normal output, which was set just last year, according to the official China Energy News.

In the southeastern city of Hangzhou, a strong storm on Monday left the city “steaming like a sauna”, according to local media, as raindrops turned to steam hitting the burning pavement. Other cities opened air raid shelters to residents seeking to cool off.

But some residents have few options to escape the heat. Around 3pm in Beijing on Tuesday, as temperatures peaked around 97 degrees, food delivery driver Yang Chonghao rested in the shade outside a popular shopping complex. He worked through the previous weeks in 100-plus degree heat, waking up at 6 in the morning and returning home around 8 or 9 at night. He gave up wearing sunblock sleeves because it was just too hot, he said.

“There’s no way to deal with it,” he said of the heat. “You can only endure it.”

The heat was most intense in Xinjiang’s Peat Depression, where the desert climate makes it regularly one of the hottest parts of China. The surface temperature in the Flame Mountains there, a popular tourist spot of barren red sandstone, reached 176 degrees on Sunday, the Chinese state broadcaster said. The air temperature record, of 126 degrees, was measured in a small town nearby.

Officials have warned that China is likely to suffer both droughts and floods this summer. Even as much of northern China baked this week, several southern provinces strengthened as the first typhoon to land this year it arrived on Monday, bringing down trees and vehicles.

Joy Dong contributed reporting from Hong Kong.

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