By Katabella Roberts(Epoch Times)
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has defended his decision to launch a huge cleanup effort in the state ahead of a visit from U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, among other world leaders.
Speaking to reporters during the unveiling of a new program to plant trees in urban neighborhoods on Nov. 13, the Democrat did not deny the clean-up efforts ahead of the visit from what he described as “fancy” world leaders.
President Biden and Mr. Xi are among the senior officials set to visit San Francisco, California this week for the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group’s annual meeting.
“I know folks are saying, ‘Oh, they’re just cleaning up this place because all those fancy leaders are coming to town, that’s true because it’s true,” Mr. Newsom said Monday.
While the governor admitted to cleaning up the state—which has been battling with rampant homelessness, drug use, and rising thefts—ahead of the visit, he also claimed such clean-up efforts had been in place for “years” prior to the APEC meeting, under the billion-dollar “Clean California” initiative unveiled in 2021.
That scheme was marketed by the governor as a “transformative initiative to remove litter, create jobs, and beautify California.”
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“It’s also true for months and months and months before APEC, we’ve been having different conversations and we’ve raised the bar of expectation between the city, the county, and the state and our federal partners,” Mr. Newsom said Monday.
‘Got to Clean Up the House’
Mr. Newsom’s comments come as major retailers have been forced to pull out of California, citing concerns about theft and the safety of employees as the city continues to grapple with increased crime and drug overdoses. San Francisco, which defunded the police in 2020 in response to Black Lives Matter protests, also slashed its police and sheriff departments’ budgets by $120 million.
Later on Monday, the governor again doubled down on his comments, telling reporters he was “excited” to “show off” California to the “21 fancy foreign leaders from around the world.”
“Anytime you put on an event, by definition, you have people over your house—you got to clean up the house. You’ve got 21 foreign leaders, you got tens of thousands of people coming from around the globe, what an opportunity to showcase the world’s most extraordinary place, San Francisco, “the governor said.
However, in the past week alone, many of San Francisco’s homeless population has also quietly been shifted to parts of the city that are far from where the APEC meeting is set to take place, reports state.
Meanwhile, an increased police presence has also been added to the streets, many of which have also been thoroughly deep-cleaned.
City workers also cleaned up graffiti and trash, painted decorative crosswalks, and resurfaced uneven sidewalks, according to The New York Times.
The cleanup followed Mr. Newsom’s visit to China last month and comes as roughly 20,000 people are set to attend the APEC group’s annual meeting at San Francisco City Hall from Nov. 14–15. The conference is set to bring in almost $53 million to the city’s economy, according to San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
Asked during a press briefing Monday if President Biden is “embarrassed that an American city needs to go through a total makeover to be presentable” ahead of the APEC meeting, national security adviser Jake Sullivan did not directly respond.
“The president is incredibly proud of the record that the United States will bring as host to this summit, and I went through some of it today: the strongest economic record of any developed country, the lowest unemployment over a sustained period in half a century, far-reaching investments in innovation in ships, rebuilding America’s infrastructure,” Mr. Sullivan replied.
“So, actually, Joe Biden thinks he is walking into the summit on the front foot and able to showcase the United States as the premier destination for investment,” Mr. Sullivan added.