Liu Jianchao

China’s top envoy in shaping US-China relations

Chinese career diplomat Liu Jianchao, head of the International Department of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has pledged to change the country’s image of “wolf warrior” diplomacy and increase cooperation between China and the United States. Liu is seen as a rising political star in China and is expected to succeed former Foreign Minister Qin Gang, who was dismissed last July. Liu would also become one of the five state councilors of China, a rank above national leaders like President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang.

Politico reported that Qin had died in late July, either from suicide or torture, and that he and relatives of top rocket force officers had helped pass Chinese nuclear secrets to Western intelligence agencies. Qin’s departure led to Wang Yi reassuming the role of foreign minister, with Liu sharing some diplomatic duties since late 2023.

China’s President Xi Jinping visited the US on January 8-13 and met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on January 12. Both sides reaffirmed the importance of continuing to implement progress made on key issues in the summit between Xi and Biden in San Francisco last November. They discussed the detention of American citizens in China, human rights, Taiwan, the South China Sea, Ukraine, North Korea, Middle East, and the Red Sea.

Katsuji Nakazawa, a senior writer at Nikkei, claims that Liu’s recent US visit was an indirect result of the strengthening ties between Russia and North Korea. He says Russia provided North Korea with more missile-related technology to secure the supply of artillery ammunition for its use in Ukraine. China is uncomfortable with having its backyard broken into and is seeking to bind with the US.

Wang remains the top contact person for security issues, spending 12 hours meeting with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in Bangkok. Liu displayed good warm-up skills during his dialogues with American diplomats and business leaders in the US. He said that China does not seek to change the current international order, but rather has benefited from it. When asked about China’s wolf warrior diplomacy and Taiwan matters, he gave standard answers.

China’s Foreign Minister Liu Xiaoping has expressed concern over the US’s decision not to support Taiwan’s independence, stating that it is a red line that must not be crossed. The US has criticized Liu as “a wolf warrior in sheep’s clothing.” Liu’s visit to the US follows a 45-year diplomatic relationship between China and the US, which began on January 1, marking the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1979.

The presidential election in Taiwan has left Beijing disappointed, as the ruling Democratic Progressive Party could renew its term by four years. Liu is expected to be appointed as the new Chinese foreign minister at the National People’s Congress’s annual meeting in early March.