China Denies Report Economic Envoy to U.S. Might Be Replaced

China isn’t considering replacing Vice Premier Liu He as the top economic envoy to the U.S., the Ministry of Commerce said Thursday, denying a media report that the change was under consideration in Beijing.

Liu was the chief negotiator for the “phase one” trade deal signed with the U.S. in January 2020 and is a close associate of President Xi Jinping. The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the Chinese government was considering replacing him with Vice Premier Hu Chunhua, citing unidentified officials.

“The report is not true,” Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters at a news briefing Thursday in Beijing.

China Considers Replacing Economic Envoy to U.S., WSJ Says

Hu, 58, is a member of Communist Party’s Politburo and the vice premier overseeing agriculture, commerce, trade and also poverty reduction, which is a signature campaign of Xi. He began his political career as a party Youth League official in Tibet in the early 1980s, and became one of China’s youngest provincial leaders when he was appointed Hebei governor in 2008. He later worked as party chief of Inner Mongolia and Guangdong before becoming vice premier in 2018.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said last week that she expected to talk to China’s top trade negotiators “soon,” without giving any details. Lower-level officials from the two sides spoke recently to discuss the trade deal, according to the Wall Street Journal report.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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