Gavin Newsom was granted a surprise audience with Chinese leader Xi Jinping when he visited Beijing on Wednesday after being warmly welcomed by other senior Chinese Communist Party leaders.
It was a greeting that stood in sharp contrast to the official dialogue between Beijing and Washington in recent years.
Relations between the world’s two largest economies are currently at a low ebb due to a range of issues, including China’s aggression towards Taiwan, its activities in the South China Sea, trade and human rights.
Still, Newsom, California’s Democratic governor, said his meeting with Xi was “remarkably positive.”
The 45-minute meeting took place in the palatial Great Hall of the People.
In this photo taken on Wednesday, October 25, 2023 and released by the California Governor’s Office, California Governor Gavin Newsom (left) meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing
US media was excluded from the meeting
Newsom’s appearance on the world stage came as speculation grew that he could be a potential successor to Joe Biden if the 80-year-old ultimately decides not to accept the Democratic presidential nomination in 2024.
The governor of California has repeatedly ruled himself out as a candidate.
However, the visit to China was the 56-year-old’s latest step in raising his profile.
He has already joined Donald Trump’s Truth Social network to debate conservatives, participated in a Republican primary debate to represent Democrats and challenged Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to a televised debate.
Republicans have sharply criticized Newsom over his week-long trip to China to discuss climate change and called on him to cancel it.
They said he should raise Beijing’s human rights abuses and Chinese fentanyl production.
“Governor. “Newsom’s attempt to align himself with the Chinese Communist Party is delusional,” Republican Congresswoman Michelle Steel said last week.
On the trip, Newsom will visit Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and the provinces of Guangdong and Jiangsu.
California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks at a press conference in Beijing
California Governor Gavin Newsom (left) shakes hands with Zheng Shanjie, head of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, after they signed a memorandum of understanding in Beijing
According to China’s state broadcaster CCTV, Xi told Newsom: “I hope your visit will enhance mutual understanding between the two sides and play a positive role in expanding China-California cooperation and promoting healthy and stable Sino-U.S. development.” Relationships will play.”
Earlier, Newsom gave a brief opening speech before a meeting with Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat.
Newsom said: “I am here expecting, as you suggest, to turn the tide, to renew our friendship and to re-address fundamental and fundamental questions that will shape our collective belief in the future.”
He said the main reason for the trip was so that California and China could work together on climate change, even if there was a party change in the White House.
Wang, who will visit the U.S. on Thursday, said Newsom’s visit drew criticism but he viewed it positively.
He said: “I think time and facts will certainly prove that your visit to China is consistent with the wishes of the people of California and consistent with the interests of the American people and the expectations of global society.”
U.S. media was physically barred from Newsom’s meeting with Xi, while Chinese journalists were allowed in, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Newsom then said that in addition to climate change, he also discussed Israel with Xi.
He also addressed the issue of fentanyl, the opioid that causes overdose deaths in the United States
The chemicals used to make fentanyl are made in China.
Newsom said: “We’ve talked about precursor chemicals, we’ve talked about the importance of the problem and how it has become one of the leading causes of death in the United States.”
He said the discussion was “remarkably positive.”
Newsom confirmed that he had not discussed the human rights situation in China with Xi, including the persecution of Uyghur Muslims.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (left) shakes hands with Zheng Shanjie, head of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, in Beijing
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, second from right, attends a meeting with Chinese officials in Beijing
Xi reportedly spoke about his memories of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, which he had visited in the past and where Newsom was previously mayor.
Biden and Xi are expected to meet at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco in November, although the meeting has not yet been confirmed.
Newsom said he had a “substantial” discussion with Xi about climate change.
He said: “We won’t make a difference on climate change unless the United States and China work together.”
There are “strategic red lines” in the relationship between the world’s two biggest greenhouse gas emitters, but both sides are capable of managing them, he added.
During their meeting, Xi told Newsom that there was “huge potential” for the two countries to cooperate on green development, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said.
Xi said climate change could still become a “new bright spot” in China-US relations.
Climate cooperation between the two countries has been disrupted in recent years, with Chinese officials insisting the issue cannot be addressed separately from broader diplomatic and trade disputes.
In July, Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry visited Beijing to resume formal talks with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua.
That followed a yearlong hiatus caused by former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.