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Chinese Leader's Top Economic Adviser Visits US for Trade Talks

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s top economic adviser, Liu He, will visit the US this week and stay from Feb 27 to March 3, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.

According to the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Liu He will exchange views with the US officials on China-U.S. relations and the two countries’ economic and trade cooperation, with an effort to relieve the increasingly frequent tension in Sino-US economic relations.

Recent frictions between these two trading partners include a US move on January that imposed tariffs on imported solar panels and washing machines. Additionally, the US president Trump has considered a “reciprocal tax” on countries like China that impose higher tariffs on their imports of American products than the United States levies on theirs, reported by New York Times. On the other hand, China launched an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation into sorghum imports from the US early this month.

Chinese officials have expressed the concerns that the U.S. is in danger of starting a trade war, while some U.S. officials have also been concerned about China’s potential retaliations, according to the Wall Street Journal. Liu’s visit at the moment, therefore, is widely believed to forestall the accelerated tensions and even a trade war with the US.

Liu is a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and director of the General Office of the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs.  A Harvard-trained economist and trusted confidant of President Xi, Liu took a reform message to the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year. He said China would deliver a series of “reform and opening surprises” that would exceed “international expectations”.

Some experts speculate that Liu might take over China’s central bank after the retirement of its current governor, Zhou Xiaochuan, who turns 70 this year. He is expected to be a qualified candidate for the position who could handle President Xi’s bold plan to transform China’s increasingly complex financial agencies.