Unanticipated Meeting Between Governor Newsom and President Xi Highlights Warming Ties During Beijing Visit

by Andrew Wright
Newsom-Xi Meeting

California Governor Gavin Newsom unexpectedly met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing this past Wednesday. The meeting was marked by a warm reception from other high-ranking Chinese officials, contrasting sharply with the frostier interactions between the U.S. and China in recent times.

Newsom’s visit to China, originally intended to focus on environmental collaboration, has attracted significant attention. It follows a period of escalating tension between the United States and China, making this trip especially noteworthy.

Prior to his meeting with Xi, Newsom had a conversation with China’s leading diplomat, Wang Yi. “The aim of my visit is to renew our partnership and engage in discussions about key issues that will shape our mutual future,” said Newsom in preliminary comments.

Though environmental collaboration was the primary agenda for Newsom, Chinese authorities used their welcoming remarks to also address U.S.-China relations. This occurs just as Wang Yi is slated for a trip to the United States later this week.

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During a post-meeting press conference, Newsom disclosed that he and Xi talked about “making significant strides in combating climate change,” without delving into further details. The discussion also touched upon China’s role in controlling the transnational shipment of fentanyl precursors, a synthetic drug implicated in numerous U.S. deaths.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV quoted President Xi as saying, “I anticipate that your visit will foster a greater understanding between both sides, and contribute positively to China-California cooperation as well as overall Sino-U.S. relations.”

Although it is yet to be officially confirmed, Xi may partake in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco next month, where a meeting with President Joe Biden could potentially take place.

During his stay in China, Newsom will visit various cities and provinces, including Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, and Jiangsu. In a speech at Hong Kong University, Newsom pledged ongoing climate collaboration, irrespective of the results of future U.S. presidential elections.

Human rights and Taiwan were also subjects of Newsom’s dialogue with Wang. The governor expressed his support for the One-China policy while expressing reservations about Taiwanese independence, aligning with established U.S. positions.

Wang, who oversees the Communist Party’s foreign affairs department, acknowledged the criticisms Newsom’s trip has received but emphasized its overall positive implications.

Vice President Han Zheng, a former member of China’s ruling elite, also met Newsom, labeling him an “old friend” and highlighting the importance of sub-national relationships in the broader Sino-U.S. diplomatic context.

Newsom signed a memorandum with the head of China’s National Development and Reform Commission to enhance environmental cooperation.

Historically, California governors have been active in fostering climate partnerships with China. Both Democrats like Jerry Brown and Republicans like Arnold Schwarzenegger have previously engaged in knowledge exchange focused on environmental issues. Brown has even established the California-China Climate Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, post his gubernatorial tenure.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Newsom-Xi Meeting

What was the primary purpose of California Governor Gavin Newsom’s visit to China?

The primary purpose of Governor Newsom’s visit to China was to push for climate cooperation. The trip is part of a weeklong tour in which Newsom is visiting several cities and provinces across China, including Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, and Jiangsu.

Was the meeting between Governor Newsom and Chinese President Xi Jinping planned in advance?

No, the meeting between Governor Newsom and President Xi was not originally on the agenda and was described as unexpected or surprising. The meeting attracted significant attention, especially because it comes after a period of escalating tensions between the U.S. and China.

What other topics did Governor Newsom and Chinese officials discuss during the visit?

Aside from climate cooperation, other topics discussed included U.S.-China relations, the transnational shipment of fentanyl precursors, human rights, and Taiwan. The officials also discussed sub-national relationships as an essential part of broader diplomatic ties between the U.S. and China.

Did Governor Newsom make any commitments regarding future U.S. presidential elections?

In a speech at Hong Kong University, Governor Newsom pledged that California would continue to cooperate on climate change issues regardless of the outcome of future U.S. presidential elections.

What role did Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat, play in the discussions?

Wang Yi met with Governor Newsom before the latter’s unexpected meeting with President Xi Jinping. During their conversation, they discussed renewing U.S.-China partnerships and engaging in dialogues about foundational issues affecting both nations’ futures. Wang Yi is also planning to visit the United States later this week.

Has California historically engaged in climate cooperation with China?

Yes, California has a history of active involvement in climate partnerships with China. Past governors, including Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, have visited China to share knowledge on reducing air pollution and emissions. Jerry Brown has also established the California-China Climate Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, to further this work.

Is Chinese President Xi Jinping expected to meet with President Joe Biden in the near future?

While it is yet to be officially confirmed, President Xi Jinping may participate in the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco. If he attends, a meeting with President Joe Biden could potentially take place.

More about Newsom-Xi Meeting

  • U.S.-China Relations: A Brief Overview
  • California’s Efforts on Climate Change
  • Background on the Fentanyl Crisis in the U.S.
  • Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit Details
  • The One-China Policy Explained
  • Historical Climate Partnerships Between California and China
  • California-China Climate Institute at UC Berkeley
  • U.S. Diplomatic Approach Toward Taiwan

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JohnDoe42 October 25, 2023 - 2:51 pm

Wow, didn’t see that comin. Newsom meeting Xi is big news. It’s like Cali is its own country lol. What’s next?

GoldenStateWarrior October 25, 2023 - 6:30 pm

As a Californian, it makes me proud to see our Governor out there on the international stage. but let’s not forget the issues we got back home too.

ForeignPolicyFan October 25, 2023 - 8:44 pm

Really curious bout what this means for US-China relations on the whole. Wang Yi’s upcoming trip to the US should be enlightening.

CryptoKing October 26, 2023 - 12:11 am

Interesting to see Newsom in China given all the tension. wonder how this affects economics and trade. Any thoughts?

ClimateActivist99 October 26, 2023 - 7:12 am

This is awesome! finally some good news on climate change. we need more states to step up like California. Keep it up, Newsom!

RealistRick October 26, 2023 - 8:50 am

Good effort but lets be realistic, one state governor aint gonna change U.S.-China policy. But a step in the right direction I guess.

SkepticalSandra October 26, 2023 - 12:31 pm

Not sure how much we can trust this partnership. Remember, China’s still got issues with human rights and all that. Just sayin.


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