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Watch What Gov. Newsom Does at APEC Summit in San Francisco

Watch What Gov. Newsom Does at APEC Summit in San Francisco

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (L) walks with U.S. President Joe Biden after delivering remarks to reporters in Mather, Calif., on Sept. 13, 2021. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

John Seiler

John Seiler

11/9/2023

Updated: 12/21/2023

Commentary
President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are expected to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco Nov. 11–17. In the United States, Nov. 11 also is Veterans Day.
It’s being called the Super Bowl of World Economies. The Associated Press writes “the White House is not expecting the face-to-face to result in major changes to the relationship between the two nations, according to a person familiar with the planning.” But that doesn’t mean anything.
No one knows what could happen between the leaders of the world’s two largest economies. Mr. Biden has been sending envoys over to China to try to defrost cold relations, because the United States has enough problems with the Russia-Ukraine War and the upheaval in the Middle East, especially the Israel-Hamas War. In June and July, the Beijing regime remained frosty to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
But a notably warm reception, including a meeting with Mr. Xi, was granted California Gov. Gavin Newsom last month. I reported on it in The Epoch Times in “Newsom Junket Appeases Communist China,” “Gov. Newsom Embarrasses California in Meeting Dictator Xi in China,” and “Chinese State-Owned Media Uses Gov. Newsom in Massive Propaganda Blast.”
Although Mr. Biden, as president, will be the official host, San Francisco is Mr. Newsom’s town. He grew up there. He was mayor there in the 1990s. And he’s the governor of California.
So, watch his position carefully at the summit, how he’s treated, and what people say about him. My guess is he will play down his position and defer at every moment to Mr. Biden. He will try to stay in the background. He’s a savvy political player, as I also have reported many times in The Epoch Times. He knows being coy only will make people more interested in him.
President Joe Biden speaks as California Gov. Gavin Newsom looks on in Seacliff, Calif., on Jan. 19, 2023. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden speaks as California Gov. Gavin Newsom looks on in Seacliff, Calif., on Jan. 19, 2023. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

Mr. Newsom and Mr. Biden

This past week Democratic Party big-shot David Axelrod, President Obama’s former senior advisor and at the pinnacle of party influencers, reportedly suggested Mr. Biden not run again in 2024. Although on Nov. 7, Mr. Axelrod insisted he didn’t tell Mr. Biden to drop out. Nice trial balloon.
The PredictIt betting pool has pegged the nomination going to Mr. Biden at 69 cents and to Mr. Newsom at 23 cents. That shows people are interested in this subterranean rivalry.
In any case, speculation at the summit will be running wild about Mr. Newsom’s situation vis a vis Mr. Biden. The APEC confab also directly will contrast the vigorous Mr. Newsom with the obviously weak Mr. Biden. The president also might be suffering from jet lag flying out from D.C., while Mr. Newsom, as the “home team,” will be returning to his home and family.
Meanwhile, although not young, Mr. Xi is 70, a decade younger than Mr. Biden. And the New York Times reported Nov. 8, “Corporate executives will pay $2,000 a head to dine with China’s leader in San Francisco next week, in one of a series of engagements aimed at stabilizing the U.S.-China relationship. ...
“The United States has expressed growing concern about China’s military ambitions and has sought to cut off Beijing’s access to technology that could be used against the United States. China’s treatment of Western companies, which are facing tougher restrictions in how they do business, have also prompted firms to question the wisdom of investing in China.
“Still, Chinese and American leaders have expressed interest in bolstering ties between their economies, the world’s two largest, which remain inextricably linked through trade.”
That’s the point. Although there has been some “decoupling,” the two countries’ economies remain tightly linked.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (L) meets with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Oct 25, 2023. (Courtesy of the Office of the Governor of California)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (L) meets with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Oct 25, 2023. (Courtesy of the Office of the Governor of California)

Big Trouble in Communist China

And Mr. Xi has his own problems. The Wall Street Journal reported Nov. 6: “Foreign firms yanked more than $160 billion in total earnings from China during six successive quarters through the end of September, according to an analysis of Chinese data, an unusually sustained run of profit outflows that shows how much the country’s appeal is waning for foreign capital. The torrent of earnings leaving China pushed overall foreign direct investment in the world’s second-largest economy into the red in the third quarter for the first time in a quarter of a century.
“The outflows add to pressure on China’s currency, the yuan, when the country’s central bank is already battling to slow its decline as investors sour on Chinese stocks and bonds and new investment in China is scarce. The yuan has depreciated 5.7% against the U.S. dollar this year and touched its lowest level in more than a decade in September.”
I’ve been watching China now for five decades. The real problem, I think, is China at this state in its move away from Maoism should have transitioned to a system with more political and religious freedom to go along with the economic liberalization. In particular, pure materialism and following a dictator’s opaque musings—whether Mao’s “Little Red Book” or Mr. Xi’s version, “The Governance of China”—just isn’t enough.
Suppressing Christians, Falun Gong, Muslim Uyghurs, and those of other faiths, in addition to being a violation of human rights, removes an essential element of coping with the difficulties all people face as humans. Religion—giving people hope in the future—also probably is the only way the country can recover from the Chinese Communist Party’s murderous 40-year one-child policy. Which has been so harmful it now is reducing the population and causing a shortage of young workers.
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)

Gov. Newsom on Display

As I noted in my articles on his trip to China, Mr. Newsom hardly said anything about the CCP’s human rights abuses, instead basking in the attention the regime gave him. During the APEC summit, also look for how he reacts to planned demonstrations. There will be the pro-Palestine demonstrations seen in many places lately.
In addition, there is Shut Down APEC, whose website attacks the political and business summiteers for “Their long-time strategy to concentrate power and wealth, funds police states around the Asia-Pacific and Latin America region, [which] locks in an unsustainable fossil fuel economy and silences our voices of resistance. ...
“Thousands will descend on the San Francisco Bay Area in a mass of community, creativity, and resistance to demonstrate what’s possible in the face of poverty, human rights abuses and the climate crisis. There will be a week of action beginning with the Peoples’ Counter Summit on Nov. 11th, then the November 12th Mass Mobilization, a variety of autonomous actions around the Bay Area and a mass direct action at APEC’s CEO summit on Nov. 15th.
“On Wednesday, November 15th, we’re planning a large scale, well organized, high visibility action to SHUT DOWN the APEC Summit.
“Hundreds of people will put their bodies on the line, reflecting the diversity of groups and communities impacted by APEC’s militarism, neo-liberalism and climate destruction. We envision colorful and festive actions that will creatively block CEOs and dictators from meeting.”
So watch for Mr. Newsom’s reaction to the protests, if any. And notice if, included in the protesters’ chants against the “human rights abuses and climate crisis” are the CCP’s multitudinous violations of religious freedom and increasing use of coal plants. And if the “dictators” denounced include Mr. Xi.
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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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