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L.A. Now Live: Gov. Brown's bullet train diplomacy on China

April 12, 2013|By Joseph Serna
  • California Gov. Jerry Brown, center, and his wife, Anne Brown, sit onboard a high-speed rail train leaving from the Beijing South train station in China.
California Gov. Jerry Brown, center, and his wife, Anne Brown, sit onboard… (Ng Han Guan / Associated…)

Gov. Jerry Brown's trade mission to China this week is intersecting with one of the most controversial issues of his governorship: California's $68-billion bullet train.

The governor has staked part of his legacy on the rail network, a centerpiece of his vision for California. He is hoping that China, which is enjoying an economic boom and spent $77.6 billion on overseas investments last year, according to official figures, will pump some of its cash into the troubled project.

Joins us at 9 a.m. as we discuss Brown’s trip with Times reporter Anthony York.

On Thursday evening, Brown, Richard and representatives of California-based railroad companies rode China's sleek bullet train to the bustling port city from Beijing, a five-hour trip that covered about 750 miles, roughly the distance from San Diego to the Oregon border.

Strolling the aisles, shaking hands with Chinese passengers, Brown extolled the nation's 5,000-mile complex of high-speed rail, built in the last seven years.

"People here do stuff," the governor said. "They don't sit around and mope and process and navel-gaze."

The Chinese interest in California's project is a welcome boost for Brown. Although state voters approved $10 billion in bonds for a high-speed railway in 2008, they have soured on it as cost estimates have ballooned by tens of billions of dollars.

The governor, who has vowed repeatedly to see the train system built, needs at least an additional $55 billion to make it happen.

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