California Governor Gavin Newsom’s recent trip to China, initially focused on climate policy and technology, also provided an opportunity for discussions on a range of diplomatic issues. Despite his lack of foreign policy experience, Governor Newsom successfully engaged in high-level governmental discussions with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and Vice President Han Zheng. In these meetings, Governor Newsom raised concerns about forced labor in Xinjiang, the repression of democracy in Hong Kong, human rights violations, and policies towards Tibet and Taiwan.
While climate policy served as the conversation starter, Newsom showed his ability to address more contentious topics typically handled by the U.S. government. Discussions on fentanyl exports, the war between Israel and Hamas, and the case of a Californian imprisoned in China were also on the agenda. This landmark meeting between a U.S. governor and the Chinese president could pave the way for a potential meeting between President Joe Biden and President Xi in San Francisco next month.
Governor Newsom views climate change as a catalyst for collaboration and emphasized the importance of addressing air pollution, floods, and wildfires during his meetings in China. Instead of focusing on coal and methane reductions, which have been points of contention in discussions with U.S. climate envoy John Kerry, Newsom highlighted “low-carbon green growth” as an area where alignment between China and California can be found.
While U.S.-China relations have been strained in recent years, particularly in the realm of climate policy, Governor Newsom’s visit signifies a willingness to engage and seek cooperation. Unlike some Washington policymakers who prioritize competition, Newsom has chosen to prioritize collaboration with China. By meeting with President Xi, Newsom has taken a significant step towards fostering engagement and finding common ground on climate and other important issues.
Q: What were the topics discussed by Governor Newsom during his trip to China?
A: Governor Newsom discussed climate change, forced labor in Xinjiang, the repression of democracy in Hong Kong, human rights violations, and policies towards Tibet and Taiwan.
Q: Did Governor Newsom focus solely on climate policy during his trip?
A: No, climate policy served as a conversation starter, allowing Governor Newsom to address a range of diplomatic issues with Chinese officials.
Q: What is the significance of Governor Newsom’s meeting with President Xi?
A: It is the first meeting between a U.S. governor and the Chinese president in four years and could potentially pave the way for a meeting between President Joe Biden and President Xi in San Francisco.
Q: How does Governor Newsom view the role of climate change in fostering collaboration?
A: Governor Newsom sees climate change as a forcing function for collaboration and emphasized the need to address air pollution, floods, and wildfires during his discussions in China