Monday, December 11, 2023

California Governor Visits China, Wants to Partner on Climate Change – The Diplomat

California Governor Gavin Newsom, right, speaks next to Professor Peng Gong on stage during a fireside chat at Hong Kong University in Hong Kong, Oct. 23, 2023.

Credit: AP Photo/Anthony Kwan


California’s governor opened a weeklong trip to China on Monday with assurances that his state will always be on board with climate issues, regardless of what happens in next year’s US presidential election.

Democrat Gavin Newsom’s visit comes as China-US relations have seen a sharp deterioration in recent years due to trade disputes, US support for self-governing Taiwan, and human rights concerns, among others. more issues.

In an attempt to strengthen his state’s role as a global leader on climate change, Newsom began his visit with a climate-themed discussion at the University of Hong Kong. He told the audience that they “can trust California,” while addressing claims that the United States is not a reliable ally.

“I want you to know, no matter what happens nationally, subnationally, you have a partner in the state of California,” he said.

Brief Diplomat

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The climate remains an area where China-US collaboration is seen as possible and necessary, but even this sector is not immune to tensions. In August 2022, China announced it was suspending climate talks with the United States in retaliation for US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. However, the two countries appear fully engaged again in the run-up to the next UN climate change conference, which opens on November 30 in Dubai.

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John Kerry, the Biden administration’s climate envoy, visited China in July 2023, part of a flurry of diplomacy that also saw the US secretaries of State, Commerce, and Treasury Department travel to China.

Newsom said China and the United States have a long-standing partnership on the issue of climate change that he wants to build on.

Li Yongsheng, deputy commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong, said at the opening of the event that China-US relations “are showing positive signs of rebounding,” and that he believes Newsom’s visit will be fruitful.


Other attendees included Gregory May, US consul general in Hong Kong; Eden Woon, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong; and Elsie Leung, former secretary for justice in Hong Kong.

But Newsom’s trip to China drew concerns from about 60 advocacy groups and non-governmental organizations. They expressed their disappointment in a joint statement on Friday that described the governor’s trip as a step in “clear aversion to engagement on critical human rights issues.”

Asked if the only way to improve climate matters in China is not to discuss human rights issues, Newsom denied the tradeoff, saying, “we can do too many things at once.”

After his trip to Hong Kong, he will head to Beijing, Shanghai, and the provinces of Guangdong and Jiangsu.

He will visit China’s first city to deploy an all-electric bus fleet, tour an offshore wind facility, and see Tesla’s Shanghai Gigafactory. He will sign agreements with the leaders of various Chinese provinces to set mutual commitments on several climate goals.

Newsom’s agenda also includes conversations about “strengthening cultural ties and combating xenophobia,” and promoting economic development and tourism.

The governors of California, with an economy larger than most countries, have a long history of climate collaboration with China. Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger also traveled there to exchange knowledge on reducing air pollution and emissions, and since leaving office, Brown launched the California-China Climate Institute at the University of California. , Berkeley.

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