Newsom Refused To Meet With Chinese Dissidents Before and After China Trip, Activist Says

California governor's China trip criticized for focus on climate change instead of human rights

December 14, 2023

California governor Gavin Newsom (D.) refused to meet with Hong Konger and Chinese dissidents before and after his October trip to China, where he was criticized for failing to confront Chinese Communist Party officials over human rights abuses, a Hong Kong activist told a congressional panel on Wednesday.

Anna Kwok, the executive director of the Hong Kong Democracy Council whose CCP-aligned government this year placed a million-dollar bounty on her head, said she sought meetings before and after the governor traveled to China and was declined.

When pressed by California representative Ro Khanna (D.) on why Newsom did not meet with her, Kwok said she was told that the governor was "too busy for us."

Kwok's testimony before the bipartisan House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party revived criticisms that Newsom's high-profile China visit ignored the country's human rights atrocities and instead focused on climate change. The trip was coordinated by the California-China Climate Institute at UC Berkeley, which has extensive ties with CCP front groups. She also spotlighted the brutal assaults on California soil by pro-CCP protesters on Hong Konger, Tibetan, and Chinese dissidents during last month's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in San Francisco.

The governor's office did not respond to a request for comment.

Kwok's testimony focused on the CCP's "transnational repression" of dissidents. She criticized U.S. and local law enforcement's failure to protect anti-CCP protesters during last month's APEC meeting. There, Chinese president Xi Jinping was feted and met with President Joe Biden and business leaders while dissidents were stalked, harassed, assaulted, bloodied, and even severely injured with little if any intervention by police.

More than 10 dissidents were bloodied at the hands of pro-CCP counterprotesters at APEC, and 3 were hospitalized with serious injuries, Kwok said. Some who suffered concussions are still hurting and undergoing brain scans. Kwok warned that this violence could intensify into kidnappings or killings unless the U.S. government ends it.

"That is just one of the things, you know, that the Chinese government is not afraid of doing on American soil exactly because they know these perpetrators likely do not really have to pay a price, they will not be hunted down because law enforcement is basically not equipped enough to do that," she said.

Other anti-CCP protesters reported similar violence. An activist with San Francisco's Students for a Free Tibet told Voice of America that 20 Chinese men beat three Tibetan college students with metal rods near the San Francisco airport, breaking and destroying the students' phones.

While members of Congress urged San Francisco law enforcement to investigate these APEC attacks, the police department has yet to announce any arrests. It's unclear if the FBI has opened its own probe. An FBI spokesperson told the Washington Free Beacon that the bureau can "neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation" but that "we're increasingly conducting outreach in order to raise awareness of how some countries' governments harass and intimidate their own citizens living in the U.S."

Throughout the APEC summit and in its aftermath, California's leaders said nothing about the pro-CCP protesters' attacks, even though the attacks were widely broadcast on social media. The CCP supporters who harassed or attacked these dissidents included college students who were bussed in and paid to greet Xi, the Daily Caller reported.

California itself has proved a magnet for CCP influence. Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis (D.), who is running to succeed Newsom as governor in 2026, in May gave a keynote address to the China-California Business Forum. China's consulate-general in Los Angeles cohosted the forum and promoted it as a way to boost cooperation between California and the Chinese government. At the APEC meeting Kounalakis warmly welcomed Xi and urged him to send pandas to the United States.

Also this year, the head of a CCP influence group met with Los Angeles mayor Karen Bass (D.) and state treasurer Fiona Ma (D.), who is running for lieutenant governor in 2026. The late California senator Dianne Feinstein (D.) employed a suspected Chinese spy in her office for nearly 20 years. Another suspected CCP spy, Fang Fang, forged connections with several California Democrats, including Rep. Eric Swalwell, the former head Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee's CIA panel.