Key figures in US-China trade talks

The next round of US-China trade talks will resume Wednesday and Thursday in Washington to try to find a way out of the tariff battle between the two powers.

Here is a look at all the presidents’ negotiators representing Xi Jinping and Donald Trump:

– China’s economic pilot Liu He – Liu He, 67, leads the Chinese negotiating team. An influential economic adviser to Beijing since Xi came to power, Liu emerged from the shadows in February 2018 when he was sent to Washington to try to avert the trade war
with Trump. He then was appointed to the post of vice premier in March, responsible for steering Chinese economic policy.

His profile contrasts with the usual resume of a top Chinese official: he is an economist who graduated from the prestigious US university Harvard. Seen as pragmatic, Liu is considered the leader of the recent movement towards rebalancing the Chinese economy to rely on domestic consumption, services and technological innovation for growth rather than exports.

– Yi Gang, reformist central banker –

Yi Gang, 60, governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), is a prominent
member of the delegation. Yi, who speaks English fluently, spent 15 years in
the United States, where he earned a PhD in economics from the University of
Illinois and then taught at a US college.

He joined the Chinese central bank in 1997, becoming deputy governor in
2008, before taking the top leadership role last year — a post under tight
government control.

Associated in recent years with the gradual liberalization of lending
rates and the easing of the tight yuan exchange rate, Yi is distinguished by
his statements very favorable to the free market, even defending increased
openness to foreign investors.

– Robert Lighthizer, Trump’s trade adviser –

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, 71, is leading the American
negotiating team, taking over from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who did not deliver on a breakthrough.

Lighthizer stays out of the limelight but shares President Donald Trump’s
mistrust of China and believes it poses a threat to US economic power. And he
has emerged as the US strongman in the ongoing trade negotiations, determined
to force changes in Beijing’s economic policies.

He led the contentious talks to revamp the North American Free Trade
Agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico, now dubbed the United
States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA.

His goal in the talks is to force the Asian giant to put an end to trade
policies the US deems “unfair,” especially the theft or forced transfer of
American technology, obliging US firms to form joint ventures with local
partners, and state subsidies for industry.

Prior to being named US Trade Representative in May 2017, Lighthizer was a
specialist in international trade law for more than 30 years and is a veteran
of trade negotiations with Japan in the 1980s.

– Peter Navarro, hardline anti-China voice –

Peter Navarro, 69, a Harvard-trained economist has long railed against the
threat from Beijing. He has advised Trump since his upstart presidential
campaign, after he gained Trump’s attention with his 2011 book “Death by
China” painting the country as a serial trade cheater, subsidizing export-
oriented industries and manipulating its currency.

He pushed Trump to renegotiate NAFTA and vigorously defended the punitive
tariffs imposed on US imports of steel and aluminum, a protectionist measure
that prompted the departure of Trump’s former chief economic adviser, Gary
Cohn, who was more pragmatic than dogmatic and highly respected by financial

At the end of 2016, Donald Trump appointed Navarro as head of the newly-
created White House National Trade Council.

However, his outspoken comments in previous meetings and reports that he
sparred with other US officials, caused him to be left on the sidelines of
some talks.

– Steven Mnuchin, more moderate? –

In the spring of 2018, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin led the US
delegation sent to Beijing to advance trade negotiations — but with little
success. His influence in the talks seems to have decreased significantly
since then.

Seen as counter-balancing Navarro’s hardline stance, this former Goldman
Sachs executive, 56, supports free trade and offers a more moderate voice on

He said Tuesday he expected “significant progress” at this week’s talks.