But he said he was working with the Biden administration on the trip. “You better believe I coordinated with the White House,” he added.
Newsom has sought to pick up the mantle of his predecessors, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and his successor Gov. Jerry Brown (D), in building climate ties with China. Brown in particular signed hundreds of subnational officials to his 2015 pledge to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius. He also famously traveled to China to tout state-level action after President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the U.N. Paris climate agreement.
But a trip to China for Newsom would come at a very different time than Brown’s, as geopolitical tensions heighten between China and the United States over trade, Taiwan, Russia and human rights issues. Last month, President Biden ordered a ban on certain US tech investments in China. And now House Republicans have launched another probe into Ford’s plans to use Chinese battery technology at its new Michigan factory.
Newsom’s trip comes after a delegation of top California climate officials returned last week from China, where they met with officials in several different provinces. Their trip was the first of its kind since 2019, aimed at bolstering pre-existing technical collaborations on reducing air pollution, transitioning to electric vehicles, building out clean energy and other initiatives.
Newsom has been at work on new collaborations, the most recent of which is an agreement the administration signed last month with the province of Hainan to work together on phasing out fossil fuel vehicles, improving energy efficiency in buildings and more. The memo followed another agreement signed in April renewing a Jerry Brown-era partnership with China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment.