China revamps trade negotiation team ahead of possible fresh talks with Biden administration

China revamps trade negotiation team ahead of possible fresh talks with Biden administration

Beijing reshuffled its trade negotiation team ahead of Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration, in the latest sign China is preparing for a possible resumption of bilateral trade talks with the United States.

Despite the damage done to bilateral relations in the past four years – including the trade war, finger-pointing over the origin of coronavirus pandemic, US efforts at technological containment, and confrontations over issues such as Hong Kong’s national security law and alleged genocide in Xinjiang – analysts believe a pragmatic and rule-respecting Biden administration will soon resume contact with Beijing and eventually return to the negotiating table.

The latest personnel adjustment came at the Ministry of Commerce, a core part of China’s trade negotiation team. Last week, Vice-Minister Yu Jianhua, 60, was appointed chief international trade negotiator – a position that has been vacant since Fu Ziying left the role amid the trade war in late 2018.

Commerce Vice-Minister Zhang Xiangchen has also been named deputy international trade negotiator. He, along with Yu and Vice-Minister Wang Shouwen, will be heading the office of international trade negotiations under the Ministry of Commerce. Wang Wentao, 56, was named the new commerce minister last month.