Xi Jinping Liu He has differences? Hu Chunhua was exploded or Xi’s special envoy

The recent speculation that Xi Jinping and Vice Premier Liu He have a “divergent line” does not appear to be an empty rumor, as foreign media have leaked information from inside Beijing that Xi is considering not having Liu He serve as his economic envoy for negotiations with the United States, but having Hu Chunhua take his place.

The Wall Street Journal reported on May 12 that sources familiar with the matter said the Chinese Communist Party is reshuffling how it responds to the new U.S. administration, and that this staffing change is one of them, with Liu He, who has decades of experience in economic work, giving way to Hu Chunhua, who has little experience in U.S.-China relations.

Officials familiar with the matter said no final decision has been made on this staffing arrangement, and it is also possible that Liu He will continue to serve in that role. He also said that even if Hu Chunhua becomes a negotiator with the U.S., Liu He will still have the important job of overseeing the domestic financial sector.

Liu He has a close relationship with Xi Jinping. He served as the lead Chinese negotiator during the Trump administration and the two sides subsequently reached a first-phase trade deal, but he did not participate in the Alaska talks between high-level U.S. and Chinese officials in March this year. And Hu Chunhua had been seen as one of the favorites to succeed Premier Li Keqiang.

But recently the Internet has been abuzz with rumors that Xi Jinping and Liu He have different views on the Cultural Revolution, with a public number on NetEase posting an old article by Liu He from 13 years ago, originally titled “Thirty Years of China’s Economy and Long-Term Issues for the Future” and a new one titled “Without Reflection on the Disaster of the Cultural Revolution, China’s Economic Growth Today Would Not Have Been Possible. The new title is “Without the reflection on the disaster of the Cultural Revolution, China’s economic growth would not have been possible today”. The article summarizes six reasons why China’s economy has grown so fast in the previous 30 years. According to outside commentators, the article is a slap in the face of Xi Jinping, who has been “playing a major role” in whitewashing the Cultural Revolution and promoting Wei Guangzheng.

In the latest personnel changes in Beijing, China Daily reported on April 20 that Beijing is rumored to be preparing to appoint Qin Gang, Xi’s chief protocol officer, to replace Cui Tiankai, the ambassador to the U.S. The 55-year-old Qin Gang has long served as the protocol officer for the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Qin, who joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1988 and was promoted to vice minister in 2018, is mainly responsible for press and protocol work and has planned various diplomatic events for Xi Jinping. In recent years, he has accompanied Xi Jinping on many overseas trips and has become his trusted assistant.

China Daily reports that by assigning Qin Gang as ambassador to the U.S., the CCP leadership is hoping for an experienced diplomat to help resume regular high-level meetings between the two countries.

At the same time, Beijing appointed one of its “diplomatic wolves,” formerly Ambassador to the United Kingdom Liu Xiaoming, as the CCP’s Special Representative for the Korean Peninsula, saying that his new post will focus on assisting the CCP Foreign Ministry in coordinating peninsula affairs. From the U.S. perspective, this is a critical position, as the U.S. has always wanted the CCP to play a key role in negotiations with North Korea.