BANGKOK — California Gov. Gavin Newsom met with China‘s seniormost diplomat Wang Yi on Wednesday and displayed a brief moment of friendliness that stands in sharp contrast to the dialogue between the U.S. and China in recent years.
The governor is on a weeklong tour of China where he will push for climate cooperation. Newsom‘s trip as governor, once considered routine, is drawing attention as it comes after years of heightening tensions between the U.S. and China.
“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.
Newsom is visiting Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and the provinces of Guangdong and Jiangsu. At a speech at Hong Kong University on Monday, he promised to continue to cooperate on climate change regardless of the outcome of the next U.S. presidential election.
Wang also struck an optimistic tone, saying “As Chairman Xi has said the foundation of China and US relations are among the people, I think your visit to China this time lays a solid foundation, spreads hope, and opens up the future.”
Wang, head of the Communist party’s office of foreign affairs, also said he knows Newsom‘s trip attracted plenty of critics, but that he views the trip positively.
“But I think time and facts will certainly prove that your visit to China is in line with California people’s wishes and in line with the American people’s interests and the expectations of the global society.”
Newsom also met with the head of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, a Cabinet-level agency responsible for economic policies.
Governors of California, which has an economy larger than most countries, have a long history of climate collaboration with China. Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger also traveled to China to swap knowledge on reducing air pollution and emissions, and since leaving office, Brown has launched the California-China Climate Institute at the University of California, Berkeley.
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