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‘Climate change with communists’: Newsom’s China trip draws criticism

By CM Chaney · October 26, 2023

In brief…

  • Gov. Newsom met with China's Xi on trip focused on climate, fentanyl
  • China used meetings to discuss U.S.-China relations amid recent tensions
  • Xi said visit could promote ties; Newsom touts climate cooperation
  • GOP criticized engaging China, trip's focus amid domestic problems
  • Speculation trip signals presidential aspirations after Israel visit
California's Gov. Gavin Newsom (above) met Chinese leader Xi Jinping to discuss climate change and the fentanyl crisis during a tense time for U.S.-China relations, sparking criticism from Republicans over engaging China and the trip's focus.  Office of the Governor of California / Wikimedia

Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom had a surprise meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing on Wednesday, during a trip focused on climate change and fentanyl amid tense U.S.-China relations.

“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 ahead of meeting China’s top diplomat Wang Yi, the AP reported.

Though aimed at climate cooperation, Chinese officials used welcoming speeches to address U.S.-China ties before the closed-door meetings. Wang prepares to visit the U.S. Thursday.

Per Newsom, he and Xi discussed “meaningful and substantive” climate progress and fentanyl, a deadly synthetic drug shipped from China. But GOP members allege Beijing fuels fentanyl trafficking to the U.S.

Xi said he hopes the visit will “play a positive role in expanding cooperation between China and California and promoting the healthy and stable development of Sino-U.S. relations,” CCTV reported.

The trip, coming after Newsom’s Israel visit last week, sparked presidential speculation and criticism for engaging China amid tensions.

“Divorce is not an option,” Newsom’s office wrote online, sharing photos. “The only way we can solve the climate crisis is to continue our long-standing cooperation with China.”

But Republicans slammed the trip’s apparent priorities.

“While China ships fentanyl killing Americans, Gov. Newsom ships California jobs to China and ignores real genocide,” Rep. Darrell Issa said.

“Talking climate change with communists while Californians suffer raging wildfires, rolling blackouts, and sky-high gas prices is peak @GavinNewsom,” Rep. Mike Gallagher tweeted.