Following concerns that Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua may replace Liu He as special envoy to the U.S.-China trade talks, the Chinese government website sponsored by the General Office of the State Council quickly issued an article clarifying that Liu He had appeared to chair a meeting on science and technology innovation on May 15, but the report did not include the usual photos of the scene.
According to the Chinese government website, the 18th meeting of the Communist Party’s National Leading Group on Science and Technology System Reform and Innovation System Construction was held in Beijing on May 15, with Liu He, who is also the group’s chairman, presiding over the meeting and making a speech.
Liu He said at the meeting that the domestic and international environment facing China’s development is undergoing profound changes, and the economy and society are constantly putting forward significant and urgent demands for scientific and technological innovation.
“The report on the Chinese government website is believed to clarify rumors that Hu Chunhua may replace Liu He in a key position.
Prior to that, the Wall Street Journal said on May 13 that sources familiar with the matter said Beijing was considering whether to replace Liu He, the leader of the comprehensive economic dialogue with the United States, with a younger Vice Premier Hu Chunhua.
Liu He is considered a close friend of Xi Jinping and has been in charge of the economy for many years and is familiar with it. During the Trump administration, when the U.S.-China trade war broke out, Liu He was given the important task by Xi Jinping to lead the Chinese side of the negotiations and lead the Chinese Communist Party delegation to negotiate with the Trump administration.
Hu Chunhua, on the other hand, is seen as one of the favorites to succeed Premier Li Keqiang. Although Hu Chunhua has served as secretary of Tibet, he has had little experience in U.S.-China relations after serving as vice premier in charge of the three rural areas, poverty alleviation, commerce and trade.
However, sources familiar with the matter also said that it has not been determined whether Hu Chunhua will eventually replace Liu He, who may also continue in the post.
The spokesman for the Chinese Communist Party’s Ministry of Commerce, Gao Feng, said at a regular press conference on the 13th that the report in the Wall Street Journal was untrue. But outsiders believe that the Wall Street Journal’s news may not be empty.
According to footage released by CCTV on May 12, Xi Jinping was accompanied by Hu Chunhua during his visit to Nanyang in Henan Province, while Vice Premier Liu He, who usually accompanies Xi Jinping on his visits around the country, was not among them.
Since the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Xi Jinping has been accompanied by Liu He mostly in his capacity as vice premier, while Hu Chunhua is less often among those accompanying him. Until the end of April, during Xi Jinping’s trip south to Guangxi and Hainan Island, Liu He remained accompanied next to Xi Jinping.
In this regard, the Sing Tao Daily said that there is no need to associate “Hu Chunhua is expected to take over as premier”. The company is responsible for agriculture, rural revitalization and other areas of work, so it is perfectly normal to accompany the research.
The 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China will be held next fall, when the Politburo will be renewed, and Liu He, who turned 70 at the beginning of the year, will surpass the retirement age of seven Communist Party leaders.
According to the Union-Tribune, Liu He is expected to quit the CCP Politburo after the 20th Congress and step down as vice premier at the two sessions in 2023. He Lifeng, the current head of the National Development and Reform Commission, is likely to replace Liu He as vice premier in charge of finance at that time.
However, many believe that it is still difficult to say whether there will be a 20th Communist Party Congress. Roger Garside, a former two-time British diplomat in China, wrote in Canada’s Globe and Mail that a regime change is inevitable, possibly through a coup to democracy.
According to the article, many people do not believe that a regime change is possible. However, who would have thought that the Soviet regime would disintegrate on its own in January 1991? But it would have taken the courage and skill of all to achieve that outcome, which is also rare in history. Gethard said he believes it can be achieved.