During a diplomatic journey to China, California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom ignited controversy by endorsing a Chinese electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer, BYD Company, based in Shenzhen. Critics point out that BYD has close affiliations with the Chinese Communist Party and has benefitted from extensive government subsidies. Newsom’s China trip, which began in Hong Kong and includes visits to Beijing, Jiangsu, and Shanghai, aims to boost California-China collaboration on various environmental concerns.
Several Republican representatives from California took issue with Newsom’s actions. Congressman Darrell Issa accused Newsom of elevating Beijing’s manufacturing sector, which Issa asserts is heavily influenced by stolen American technology. He argues that Newsom’s stance undermines Californians’ well-being and is largely symbolic rather than practical. Similarly, Congressman Doug LaMalfa criticized Newsom for promoting Chinese industries at the expense of American jobs and ethical standards. LaMalfa went further, suggesting that Newsom should focus on American exceptionalism rather than kowtowing to the Chinese Communist Party.
Congresswoman Michelle Steel criticized Newsom for discouraging domestic mining of critical minerals essential for EV batteries, stating that American mining is both cleaner and more ethical compared to Chinese operations. While Newsom champions his green initiatives, including a recent mandate to transition California to electric cars by 2035, Congressman Jay Obernolte finds it paradoxical that Newsom supports a Chinese hybrid vehicle while also attempting to curtail hybrid vehicle sales in California.
This situation is particularly poignant given China’s stranglehold on the global supply chain for electric vehicles. According to the International Energy Agency, China accounts for a significant percentage of the production of lithium-ion batteries and critical minerals vital for EVs. The U.S., by contrast, has been significantly lagging in these sectors, largely due to regulatory constraints. Critics argue that Newsom’s endorsement serves to strengthen China’s already dominant position, which could potentially undermine America’s energy independence and economic security.
The reaction to Newsom’s endorsement of BYD highlights broader tensions over trade, human rights, and environmental stewardship, placing the Governor in a difficult position as he seeks to advance his state’s green energy policies.