WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Chinese and U.S. officials are negotiating this week in Washington to try to end a debilitating 15-month trade war, with talks set to culminate on Friday when the head of Beijing’s delegation meets U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House.
The Chinese team includes a deep bench of economists and veteran government officials, many of them Western-educated and with decades of experience in policy-making and managing China’s vast banking, agriculture, and infrastructure-building state owned entities.
They’re meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, U.S. Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin, and their deputies. The United States is pushing for Beijing to make structural reforms to the way it manages its economy, while China wants an end to tariffs that have been slapped on billions of dollars in Chinese goods imports.
Here are the key members of the Chinese delegation:
Liu, a 67-year-old Harvard-trained economist and trusted confidant of Chinese President Xi Jinping, has been leading the Chinese delegation in the trade talks. Liu speaks fluent English, is well-regarded for his deep understanding of China’s economic issues, and is often seen following Xi on regional tours and meetings with foreign leaders.
Yi, 61, is a highly respected monetary policymaker with a PhD in economics from the University of Illinois. He headed the State Administration of Foreign Exchange from 2009 to 2016, and was seen as instrumental in helping to steer landmark policy shifts including the 2015 devaluation of the Chinese yuan. Yi is also a fluent English speaker.
Liao, 51, is also deputy director of the general office of the Central Finance and Economic Affairs – a top decision-making body of the ruling Communist Party. Liao, a popular folk singer in the 1980s, has had a long career in China’s banking and finance sector and is seen as a rising star in its government. Liao graduated from Peking University in 1993 and studied at Cambridge University in 2006. Yi and Liao are seen as the point people handing currency and finance issues in the trade talks.
Wang, 53, is a respected Chinese trade expert who has had a long career with the trade ministry. Wang, a fluent English speaker with a PhD degree in economics from Peking University, is seen assisting Liu on trade issues.
Zhong, 64, is Wang’s boss. He served under Xi in the coastal province of Zhejiang when Xi was the Communist Party secretary and governor of the wealthy region in the mid-2000s. Zhong was present at trade talks in Beijing last year, and joined a telephone call with Lighthizer and Mnuchin in July, but he had not attended the previous rounds of talks in Washington. Zhong’s attendance this week signals Beijing regards the current round as especially important.
Han, 55, is China’s senior agricultural representative in the talks, in which Chinese purchases of U.S. farm goods have been a key issue for both sides. Han has previously warned that the United States will struggle to regain China’s agricultural market if it is lost as a result of the trade war.
NING JIZHE, VICE CHAIRMAN OF THE NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND REFORM COMMISSION
Ning, 62, is a vice chairman of the NDRC, China’s top economic planning agency, as well as the head of the country’s National Bureau of Statistics. The NDRC’s vast remit stretches from approving major infrastructure projects to overseeing the energy regulator. The NDRC also drafts laws on economic restructuring and the economy’s opening to the outside world.
Also in the delegation are Vice Minister of Industry and Information Technology Wang Zhijun, 54, who has spoken out about the dangers the U.S. tariffs pose to global supply chains, and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Zheng Zeguang, 56.
Reporting by Ryan Woo and Echo Wang Editing by Heather Timmons and Paul Simao