Governor Newsom's Diplomatic Journey in China: Reflections and Agenda

Governor Newsom's Diplomatic Journey in China: Reflections and Agenda
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, right, meets with Zheng Shanjie, head of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, unseen, in Beijing, on Oct. 25. (Ng Han Guan / Associated Press)

A Unique Experience

California Governor Gavin Newsom recently returned home from an extraordinary journey in China, marking a departure from his usual role as governor. This was the first time he ventured onto the world stage, and it happened during a period of heightened global tensions. In this article, we explore Newsom's overseas expedition, both in terms of style and substance.

VIP Treatment and Pomp

Newsom's arrival in China was met with grandeur. He experienced VIP treatment, surpassing what he typically encounters in California. His motorcade, complete with flashing lights and road closures, whizzed through Beijing's bustling streets. Notably, he was granted a private tour of the Forbidden City, a majestic imperial palace that opened its doors early to accommodate his visit. Furthermore, the governor enjoyed lavish six-course banquets in each city he visited, complete with opulent floral and fruit arrangements.

A Packed Agenda

During his seven-day visit to five Chinese cities, Newsom engaged in a hectic schedule filled with meetings, sightseeing, and celebratory events. Local media swarmed around him wherever he appeared, and some events were masterfully staged, resembling elaborate ceremonies.

Spectacles and Visual Highlights

Newsom's journey was punctuated by visually striking moments. At a wind energy facility, he participated in an agreement-signing ceremony reminiscent of a wedding. Tesla's Shanghai factory welcomed him with a choreographed "car dance" involving blinking headlights and synchronized door movements. Additionally, the governor had some memorable personal experiences, including feeding red-crowned cranes at a bird sanctuary and posing for an iconic photo on the Great Wall.

The Handshake with Chinese President Xi

One of the most enduring images of the trip was Newsom's handshake with Chinese President Xi Jinping. This exchange elevates his image as a global leader, though it sparked criticism for engaging with a repressive government.

The Climate Change Agenda

Newsom's primary focus during the trip was on climate change. He emphasized that the U.S. and China collectively contribute to around 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Without both nations transitioning to clean energy, there is little hope of mitigating climate change's devastating effects. Newsom repeatedly emphasized how California views this transition as an economic opportunity to foster clean energy businesses.

Diplomatic Hopes and Clean Energy Collaboration

The trip's timing allowed Newsom to position himself in the lead-up to significant global climate negotiations. While some criticized him for concentrating on climate change over human rights issues, he stated that discussions around climate change could potentially open the door to broader dialogue between the U.S. and China.

Rebuilding Economic Ties

Throughout his journey, Newsom expressed his desire to rebuild economic ties between California and China. He reiterated the commitment to maintaining a strong relationship, even stating that "divorce is not an option." This vision seeks to promote collaboration and mutual benefits between the two entities.

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