Gavin Newsom meets with Xi Jinping to tackle climate change, fentanyl

Newsom's surprise visit drew criticism due to current heightened tensions between the US and China.

Katie Daviscourt Seattle WA
Democrat California Governor Gavin Newsom had a surprise meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday in which the two discussed cooperation in combating climate change and stopping the transnational shipment of fentanyl from China to the United States.

Gov. Newsom is in China for a weeklong tour which has drawn criticism due to current heightened tensions between the US and China. Newsom will be visiting Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, and the provinces of Guangdong and Jiangsu.

The Democrat governor said during a press briefing on Wednesday that he and Xi Jinping met in Beijing and discussed ways to "accelerate our progress on climate in meaningful and substantive ways," according to Fox LA.

The meeting between Newsom and the leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was held behind closed doors. Newsom also said that he and Xi Jinping discussed the synthetic opioid fentanyl, which has become the number one killer of young people in the US, and China's role in combatting the transnational shipment. The fentanyl flooding of US streets which has created an existential drug crisis has been coming from China.

During the meeting, Xi Jinping reportedly told Newsom, "I hope your visit will enhance mutual understanding between the two sides and play a positive role in expanding cooperation between China and California and promoting the healthy and stable development of Sino-US relations."

Newsom also met with Wang Yi, the head of the CCP's office of foreign affairs, and told reporters ahead of the meeting: "I'm here in expectation, as you suggest, of turning the page, of renewing our friendship and re-engaging (on) foundational and fundamental issues that will determine our collective faith in the future."

He claimed to have brought up human rights concerns with Wang, and the two also touched on Taiwan, a sensitive subject for Beijing. The self-governing island is claimed by China as its own land. The US does not officially recognize Taiwan but is one of the island's greatest unofficial allies.

"I expressed my support for the One-China policy ... as well as our desire not to see independence," Newsom said.

Wang, who will be visiting the US on Thursday, told reporters that Newsom's visit was well-intentioned.

"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," Wang said, according to the outlet.

Newsom also met with CCP Vice President Han Zheng on Wednesday who called the Democrat governor an "old friend" as he greeted Newsom with a huge smile.

"The China-US relationship is the most important bilateral relationship in the world, and the sub-national cooperation is an indispensable part to facilitate the sound and steady growth of China-U.S. relations," Han said. "I'm sure your weeklong trip will inject positive energy into the development of the China-U.S. relationship."

On Monday, Gov. Newsom gave a speech at Hong Kong University and pledged to continue cooperation on combatting climate change. He also met with the head of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, which is an agency responsible for economic policies, the outlet reports.
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