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Newsom Junket Appeases Communist China

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Newsom Junket Appeases Communist China

Governor of California Gavin Newsom answers questions during a press conference in Beijing on Oct. 25, 2023. (Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images)

John Seiler

John Seiler

10/25/2023

Updated: 10/26/2023

Commentary
After a brief stop in Israel to meet with officials and victims in the wake of Hamas’s Oct. 7 terrorist attack, Gov. Gavin Newsom headed off to his week-long trip to communist China. As I have reported in The Epoch Times for more than a year, he’s obviously running for president, if not in 2024, then 2028. With this trip, he’s burnishing his scant foreign-policy credentials.
It’s significant that he picked China for this major foreign trip. He could have stayed in Israel a week. Or after his stop there, he could have visited U.S. troops in Syria and Iraq, or the U.S.S. Ford and U.S.S. Eisenhower strike groups. Appearing on the decks of the giant air force carriers would have made a great photo op.
The best would have been a visit to the 40th Infantry Division of the California National Guard, which in June he ordered deployed “to support Operation Spartan Shield and Operation Inherent Resolve, missions to build partner capacity and increase regional security in the Middle East,” reported the U.S. Army’s website on June 16. “Today, the Sunburst Division will deploy Soldiers across the Middle East, including Iraq, Jordan and Kuwait.” Jordan is next to Israel.
Instead, reported the Washington Examiner, “‘I wish I was president of the United States,’ he told reporters when asked about meeting with Israeli leaders, particularly to discuss a potential ceasefire with Hamas. He added afterward that he was joking. ‘I could start doing all those things.’”

Hong Kong Sellout

Since 1997, Hong Kong increasingly has been absorbed into the People’s Republic of China, becoming a “captive nation,” to use a Cold War term. That betrays the agreement Beijing had with the United Kingdom at the time the crown colony was “given” to the communists. I covered this in my review in The Epoch Times of the late Bruce Herschensohn’s book, “A Profile of Hong Kong: During Times Past, Times Current, and Its Quest of a Future Maintaining Hong Kong’s Liberty.”
Governor of California Gavin Newsom attends a press conference in Beijing on Oct. 25, 2023. (Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images)

Governor of California Gavin Newsom attends a press conference in Beijing on Oct. 25, 2023. (Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images)

Even fellow Democrats attacked Mr. Newsom for failing to bring up human rights in Hong Kong, his first stop on the trip. He ought to “speak very clearly against the repression of the Hong Kong people,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), co-chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. “Otherwise it does great damage because it looks like the Chinese repression is accepted and we cannot allow that to be the case.”
The excuse came in a statement Mr. Newsom’s office put on his official website: “HONG KONG—Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday started his weeklong international trip with a stop at Hong Kong University.
“Governor Newsom’s trip is focused on advancing concrete climate collaborations with key national and subnational partners, promoting economic development and tourism, and encouraging a cultural exchange between countries. Over the next six days, Governor Newsom and his delegation will travel through China, visit key demonstration sites and meet with leaders who share California’s commitment to addressing our global climate crisis while fostering a lowcarbon, green growth agenda.”
By “demonstration sites,” Mr. Newsom’s statement means demonstrations of China’s green technology developments, not the sites of freedom demonstrations in Hong Kong in 2019–2020, which led to at least four deaths.
The statement continued: “At Hong Kong University, the Governor participated in a fireside chat with Professor Peng Gong, Vice President and Pro Vice Chancellor of the University. Hong Kong University is a premier research institution and, much like the University of California system, plays a significant role in shaping government policies. The Governor spoke to the importance of the university system, and the hope he has in the next generation exercising their capacity to make a difference in the climate crisis.”
Is that another joke? Hong Kong doesn’t “shape” policies for itself—Beijing does. Mr. Newsom himself said: “We must radically change the way we produce and consume energy, and it won’t be enough if we act alone. This is a global crisis and it requires a global response.
“The long-standing partnership—and competition—between California and China has led to measurable progress: electrification of ports, cleaning our air of smog and pollution, and innovating new technologies that build economies. This visit is an opportunity to share our successes, learn from one another and continue driving an ambitious climate agenda.”
Young participants hold a banner during a "Stand With Hong Kong" rally in Pasadena, Calif., on June 12, 2021. (Ringo Chiu/AFP via Getty Images)

Young participants hold a banner during a "Stand With Hong Kong" rally in Pasadena, Calif., on June 12, 2021. (Ringo Chiu/AFP via Getty Images)

Pro-Freedom Groups Protest Newsom

Not mollified were more than 50 groups advocating democracy and freedom in Hong Kong and the mainland. “A joint statement by Hong Kongers, Chinese, Taiwanese, Tibetans, Uyghurs, and allies” announced: “We are deeply disappointed by Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision to explicitly turn away from engaging on critical human rights issues—given the deteriorating civil liberties and freedoms in Hong Kong, the arbitrary detainment of the Uyghur people in East Turkistan, the escalating human rights situation in occupied Tibet, and tightening grasp on fundamental freedoms by the Chinese government—in his upcoming trip to Hong Kong and mainland China. Human rights should never be dismissed or sidelined, especially by an elected leader traveling internationally. As the first high-profile U.S. official to visit Hong Kong since the National Security Law (NSL), Gov. Newsom’s poor messaging sets a problematic tone for future diplomatic engagement.”
The NSL was imposed in Hong Kong in 2020 to further repress its once-free people and prevent new demonstrations. Critics called it “the end of Hong Kong.”
The protest statement continued: “We question why Gov. Newsom has decided to travel to Hong Kong and mainland China at this time. While he will ostensibly visit China for climate issues as a foreign dignitary, he is pledging not to speak on connected concerns vital to his constituency.
We share his commitment to combating anti-Asian hate but fail to see how meetings with officials of an authoritarian regime abroad achieve that stated objective. He should instead listen to his constituents who face both racism here and well-documented instances of transnational repression directed by the Chinese Communist Party.
“While he enjoys the freedom and safety of visiting Hong Kong and mainland China, his constituents who are in exile cannot return home without being immediately detained. Among over 100,000 residents in California born in Hong Kong, many have family members and friends threatened by the ongoing political crackdown. As governor, he has a responsibility to defend the interests of his constituents.”
Indeed, he as a responsibility to represent all 39 million Californians, because this state is supposed to be a world beacon of freedom. Mr. Newsom himself always is talking about his California Way being a light unto the world.

BYD’s Useless COVID Masks

Remember how during Mr. Newsom’s mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis he autocratically spent $1 billion of California taxpayers’ money on masks from China? The Los Angeles Times reported April 20, 2020: “Gov. Gavin Newsom‘s decision to spend almost $1 billion in taxpayer funds to buy protective masks drew national attention as an aggressive move by California to solve one of the most nagging problems of the coronavirus crisis.
A man wearing a face mask walks past the BYD office in Los Angeles on May 13, 2020. N95 masks produced by BYD in China as part of Gov. Gavin Newsom's billion-dollar deal twice failed to meet required safety certification deadlines. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

A man wearing a face mask walks past the BYD office in Los Angeles on May 13, 2020. N95 masks produced by BYD in China as part of Gov. Gavin Newsom's billion-dollar deal twice failed to meet required safety certification deadlines. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

“But almost two weeks after he announced the deal during a cable TV interview, very few details have been disclosed. The governor’s advisors have so far declined requests for information about the agreement with BYD, the Chinese electric car manufacturer hired to produce the masks, though the state has already wired the company the first installment of $495 million.”
The Epoch Times reported a month later, in May 2020: “California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $1 billion deal with a Chinese company to produce protective masks during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic has soured, as the masks failed to meet national safety and health standards.”
California Globe reported in May 2022: “Two years after Gov. Gavin Newsom’s shady no-bid $1 billion N-95 mask deal with newly formed BYD Mask company, there are still many questions surrounding the deals.
“Gov. Gavin Newsom approved spending $1 billion of taxpayers funds on masks from Chinese company BYD, an electric bus maker which started manufacturing N95 masks as the COVID pandemic hit, when the original mask purchase to Blue Flame fell apart after a bank notified the governor that Blue Flame was only a few days old.” Since then there has been no attempt to account for the $1 billion.

Touring BYD’s Electric Car Factory

Guess which company he visited once inside China on his junket? Headlined Red State, “Gavin Newsom Pimps Chinese Electric Car Company BYD, the Same Company He Awarded a $1B Mask Contract.” The story: “During his trip to China to discuss climate change (and ‘combating xenophobia,’ but nothing else), California Gov. Gavin Newsom toured the Shenzhen facility of electric automobile manufacturer Build Your Dreams (BYD) and tested out their newest product.”
Now let’s uncover the connections. The California Globe reported in May 2020: “The prominent lobbyist who represents BYD is Mark Weideman of The Weideman Group. The governor’s campaign received $40,000 from BYD’s automotive division.
“Weideman also represents Bloom Energy, a fuel cell manufacturer in San Jose, which recently retooled its facility to rehabilitate ventilators for COVID-19 patients.
“Weideman also represents NextGen America, owned by Tom Steyer, Newsom’s economic recovery committee chairman” and billionaire.
“Mark Weideman’s wife is Jennifer Wada, an attorney who now has a government relations business—Wada Government Relations Group. It is not common knowledge even among Sacramento insiders that Wada and Weideman are married.
“Wada previously was a partner in Wada, Williams Law Group. Her former law partner is Anthony Williams, who is now Gov. Newsom’s Legislative Affairs Secretary, although news reports from 2018 also called Williams Newsom’s ‘chief lobbyist.’”
Let me add Bloom Energy is 8.78 percent owned by New Enterprise Associates. And according to the latter’s website, its investments include China Health, “Provider of pharmaceuticals, medical supplies and health care information technologies to China’s fast-growing healthcare services industry.” And China Gtel, “Innovative wireless search services provider for businesses and consumers,” which is based in Hangzhou, China.
The BYD logo is pictured on top of its office in Los Angeles on May 13, 2020. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

The BYD logo is pictured on top of its office in Los Angeles on May 13, 2020. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Communist Control

BYD likes to say it’s a “private” company. But a 2019 report by Radarlock found, “It benefits from government subsidies, incubation, and assistance—through declared and undeclared channels. That support stems both from government plans (i.e., Made in China 2025 and, more recently, China Standards 2035) and from [military-civil fusion] efforts.
“As a private company, BYD accesses foreign technologies, data, and markets. It then grants State-owned and military enterprises—including, for example, the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology—access to those technologies, data, and markets. It works alongside military affiliates in a government-directed ‘alliance’ aggregating big data from vehicles. BYD is also part of a government-directed and supported ‘innovation center’ that seeks explicitly to combine ‘domestic and foreign resources’ to build up a Chinese-dominated next-generation vehicle industry.”
No wonder the Global Times, the English-language paper of the Chinese Communist Party, enthused Oct. 23 over the Newsom visit: “Truly precious for China-California friendship to carry forward: Global Times editorial.” It continued, “To be honest, Chinese people currently lack faith in Washington as a whole and have distrust toward some US politicians. However, the welcome for Governor Newsom’s visit is sincere and warm, as ‘it is always a pleasure to greet a friend from afar.’ California sees this visit as a ‘historic opportunity.’ Although this is Newsom’s first visit to China as Governor of California, he developed a deep connection with China during his tenure as mayor of San Francisco. California in recent years has pursued a friendly policy toward China, which is notable given the current state of China-US relations. The stability and continuity that California has maintained in its handling of relations with China are particularly commendable.”
Naturally the editorial included a reference to the country’s dictator: “Xi Jinping pointed out, the foundation of China-US relations lies in the people and the source of strength lies in the friendship between their peoples. It is hoped that California can become a prism that allows more people to see the pragmatic cooperation between China and the US.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a press conference in Beijing on Oct. 25, 2023. (Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a press conference in Beijing on Oct. 25, 2023. (Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images)

Conclusion: A Disgusting Display of Kowtowing

As an anti-communist of almost six decades now, I find Mr. Newsom’s visit a disgusting display of kowtowing to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) dictatorship. I have reported such issues in several Epoch Times articles, “California Is Cooperating in China’s Eco-Scams,” and, “California Zero-Carbon Mandates Boost China’s Control of Cobalt.”
China is doing nothing to reduce its use of coal power, but advancing it. The pollution crosses the Pacific Ocean and pollutes California, according to a 2020 study by the University of California, “Metals from Chinese coal plants are ending up in the Pacific Ocean, with uncertain consequences.” The summary: “The study shows that smoke from power plants carries iron and other metals to the surface waters of the North Pacific Ocean as westerly winds blow emissions from Asia to North America. Peak measurements show that up to nearly 60% of the iron in one vast swath of the northern part of the ocean emanates from smokestacks.”
Mr. Newsom’s grandstanding at CCP-controlled factories that are starting to dominate the global EV market does nothing to help Californians’ jobs or health. We’ll soon see how much Americans realize this, and if that realization dampens his vaulting presidential ambitions.
John Seiler

John Seiler

Author

John Seiler is a veteran California opinion writer. Mr. Seiler has written editorials for The Orange County Register for almost 30 years. He is a U.S. Army veteran and former press secretary for California state Sen. John Moorlach. He blogs at JohnSeiler.Substack.com and his email is writejohnseiler@gmail.com

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