California Gov. Gavin Newsom had a surprise meeting with Chinese President Xi on Oct. 25.
This marks the second time a governor has met with China since former California Gov. Jerry Brown in 2017.
Newsom’s sit-down with the head of the world’s second largest economy came during a weeklong tour of China, where the California governor will stump for cooperation on his climate change agenda.
“I’m here in expectation, as you suggest, of turning the page, of renewing our friendship and reengaging (on) foundational and fundamental issues that will determine our collective faith in the future,” Newsom said in brief opening remarks ahead of his meeting with Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat, earlier in the day.
Xi said that China and the U.S. enjoy great potential for cooperation in promoting green development and addressing climate change, according to the Xinhua News Agency. The two sides should strengthen cooperation in this area and make it a new highlight in the development of China-U.S. ties, Xi added.
The pair met in the Great Hall of the People — the meeting place of the Chinese legislature — an immense building with columns of gray marble, located on the western side of Tiananmen Square.
Newsom reiterated California’s commitment to serving as a partner on climate matters and how critical China remains in global efforts to reduce pollution. He also broached the topics of China’s human rights violations and anti-democratic efforts in Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjang, and Taiwan.
“Divorce is not an option. The only way we can solve the climate crisis is to continue our long-standing cooperation with China. As two of the world’s largest economies, the work we do together is felt in countless communities on both sides of the Pacific,” Newsom said. “Despite major differences, we share our humanity – our desire to feel protected, connected and respected is universal – and that humanity is what should drive us to work together to stop the greatest existential threat our planet has ever known.”
Xi added that he hopes Newsom’s visit will “enhance mutual understanding and play a positive role in expanding cooperation between China and California” in order to promote the “sound and steady development of China-U.S. relations.”
Newsom’s alliance with China sparked bipartisan criticism three years ago, when the governor spent roughly $1 billion in taxpayer funds to purchase face masks during the pandemic.
An 848-page trove of documents released a year later showed that the state deviated from normal procedures in awarding the contract, and that lobbyists played a large role in orchestrating the deal, which members of Newsom’s own political party called “murky.”