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Investment, environment top Jerry Brown's China agenda

April 04, 2013|By Anthony York
  • California Gov. Jerry Brown, left, meets in Tokyo with Tadashiro Iwakoshi, president of Nissan Motors, on April 9, 1977. Brown is traveling to China, his first foreign trip since retaking the governor's office.
California Gov. Jerry Brown, left, meets in Tokyo with Tadashiro Iwakoshi,…

Gov. Jerry Brown  had a clear message for Chinese companies as he prepares for his week-long trip to the Middle Kingdom next week: California wants your money.

“They’ve got billions of dollars,” Brown said. “I'd like to get as much for California as we could.”

That includes pursuit of Chinese government and business investment in everything from clean-tech companies to the state’s $68-billion bullet train. Brown will help open a new state trade office in Shanghai, the first of its kind since the state shuttered 12 outposts around the globe a decade ago, to help promote such investment.  

Along the way, Brown will ride the bullet train from Beijing to Shanghai, joined by the head of the state’s high-speed rail authority.

There was just a hint of longing as Brown discussed China’s booming economic growth, marked by massive infrastructure projects including more than 5,000 miles of new high-speed railways, and made possible in part by China’s one-party political system.

“Sure there’s excess and they displace people, but there’s a thrust,” Brown said.

Brown acknowledged that growth has come at a tremendous environmental cost. He said he will spend much of the week touting California’s environmental track record and urge the Chinese to join in a global effort to combat climate change.

“So goes China, so goes the world,” Brown said when asked about the country’s role in combating global warming. “They’re crucial to our plans.”

The trip signals a new phase of Brown’s governorship. Having declared the state’s books balanced, he is shifting his focus away from the mundane task of balancing the state’s books toward more lofty pursuits.

 “I’ve never done this, ever in my life,” Brown said about his overseas jaunt, before correcting himself, noting that he took a trip to Japan during his first stint as governor to “visit the car companies.”

When reminded of his 1979 trip to Africa with former girlfriend Linda Ronstadt, he said,  “That was a little different. That was an environmental trip.”


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