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.