Senior official’s US visit aims to avoid further trade conflicts

By Yang Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2018/2/27 21:46:38

Frequent visits to US aimed at easing tensions

The frequent visits of Chinese senior officials to the US show bilateral economic ties are at a crucial point and that both sides are seeking solutions, experts said.

The US is using the trade gap between the two countries to pressure China. But instead of a stubborn display of strength, experts advise that both sides should express their economic reform plans to avoid further conflicts and to find a new basis for cooperation.

At the invitation of the US government, Liu He, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Director of the General Office of the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs, is visiting the US from Tuesday to Saturday.

His visit comes just two weeks after a similar one by Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi. The visit to the US by two senior Chinese officials in a month, especially during the ongoing plenary session of the CPC Central Committee and just days away from the annual two sessions in March, is very unusual, observers said.

"The unusual frequent visits and the timing of Liu's visit show that China hopes to correct and stabilize the direction of Sino-US relations as soon as possible," said Diao Daming, an associate professor at the Renmin University of China.

The visit by Yang, as China's top diplomat, in early February tackled the trade issue and focused on "important international and regional issues of mutual concern," such as the Korean Peninsula issue, Xinhua reported.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said that during Liu's visit, "the two sides will exchange views on China-US relations and bilateral cooperation on trade and the economy."

"After Donald Trump took office, reducing the trade deficit with China became a priority for the US, and the US launched a series of offensives on trade to strike Chinese products and companies' activities in the US in 2017-18. Therefore, Liu's mission could be very tough," said An Gang, a US studies expert and member of the academic committee at the Pangoal Institution, a Beijing-based think tank.

The US launched a series of investigations on Chinese steel, rubber goods and solar products, and attacked China's economic policy.

Liu, as a crucial figure in China's economic and financial policymaking, is the most suitable person to coordinate China's relevant policies with the US and implement a dialogue mechanism, Diao said. "Liu also needs to clarify China's stance on trade, to stress the interdependency between the two economies and the lose-lose consequences of a trade war."

More importantly, Liu should let Washington understand Beijing's capabilities on proactive agenda-setting and ability to counter US actions in trade conflicts, Diao added.

Economic coordination

"Aside from this, Liu could also have another important mission, which is to inform the US about China's new general plan on economic reform which was determined after the 19th CPC National Congress," An said.

Liu attended the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year and said during the event that China will have a series of new measures on reform and opening-up this year beyond international expectations while commemorating the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up.

Recently, US economic performance is not bad, and the Trump administration is also pushing economic reform in the US, so the key to Sino-US coordination at the new stage is to realize mutual promotion while both sides push for reforms, An said. "In other words, they need to find a new foundation for win-win cooperation."

China and the US need to understand that the re-balance of Sino-US economic ties cannot simply rely on increasing imports from the US and reducing exports to the US, and both sides should seek a solution from their structural reforms, An said.

Newspaper headline: Officials to curb conflicts

Posted in: DIPLOMACY

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