In a world where geopolitics can often overshadow important global issues, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom took a proactive step during his week-long visit to China by reaffirming his state’s commitment to tackling climate change.
Despite the tense backdrop of U.S.-Chinese relations, Governor Newsom’s message was clear: California will remain a steadfast partner in the fight against climate change, regardless of the outcomes of next year’s U.S. presidential election.
Climate Collaboration Amidst Diplomatic Strain
The diplomatic landscape between the United States and China has faced significant challenges in recent years, marked by trade disputes, U.S. support for Taiwan, and human rights concerns, among other contentious issues. However, Governor Newsom’s visit to China was driven by a different agenda, focusing on climate action and economic partnership.
A Global Leader on Climate Change
To underscore California’s global leadership in climate change efforts, Governor Newsom commenced his visit with a climate-themed discussion at the University of Hong Kong. He assured the audience that they could count on California’s unwavering support, emphasizing that his state would remain a reliable partner even if the United States were to change its stance on climate change.
“I want you to know, regardless of what happens nationally, sub-nationally, you have a partner in the state of California,” Newsom said.
Climate Collaboration Between Two Giants
Climate change is one issue where collaboration between the U.S. and China remains feasible and essential. As the next U.N. climate change conference approaches, both nations have re-engaged in this critical matter, with the conference scheduled to open in Dubai on November 30.
Governor Newsom highlighted the long-standing partnership between China and the United States on climate change, expressing his desire to further strengthen this collaboration. Li Yongsheng, deputy commissioner of the Chinese foreign ministry in Hong Kong, echoed positive signs of improvement in China-U.S. relations and expressed optimism regarding the productivity of Newsom’s visit.
A Controversial Trip
Newsom’s visit to China has not been without controversy. Approximately 60 advocacy groups and non-governmental organizations expressed their disappointment in a joint statement, characterizing the governor’s trip as a turning away from addressing critical human rights issues.
When questioned about whether progress on climate issues required avoiding discussions on human rights, Newsom asserted that these objectives could coexist, saying, “we can do many things at once.”
Exploring Climate Initiatives and Partnerships
During his visit, Newsom will travel to Beijing, Shanghai, and the provinces of Guangdong and Jiangsu. His itinerary includes visits to the first Chinese city to deploy an all-electric bus fleet, tours of offshore wind facilities, and a visit to Tesla’s Shanghai Gigafactory. The governor also plans to sign agreements with leaders of various Chinese provinces, focusing on mutual commitments to climate goals.
Newsom’s agenda extends beyond climate action, encompassing discussions on strengthening cultural ties, combating xenophobia, and promoting economic development and tourism.
California has a remarkable history of climate collaboration with China. Past governors, including Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, have engaged in knowledge-sharing initiatives to reduce air pollution and emissions. Jerry Brown has continued his climate efforts by founding the California-China Climate Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, even after leaving office.
Governor Gavin Newsom’s visit to China serves as a testament to the enduring commitment of California to combat climate change and foster international partnerships, even in the face of complex international relations.