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Beijing: President Xi Jinping’s top economic adviser Liu He will head to the US next week in a sign of an expanded role managing the mounting trade tensions between the governments in Beijing and Washington, said a person familiar with the matter.

As President Donald Trump considers harsh tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from China, Liu’s visit could mean yet another mandate for the Harvard-educated adviser whose understanding of the US and ties to local business leaders could help ease friction between the governments.

Expected to be appointed vice premier in charge of financial policy by the National People’s Congress next month, Liu, 66, also has been named by analysts as a possible candidate to head China’s central bank.

Liu is scheduled to arrive in Washington on Tuesday, said the person who asked not to be identified because the trip hasn’t been announced. He will be the second member of the powerful 25-member Politburo to travel to the US this month.

China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi visited earlier in February, an indication of how much attention China is giving to ties with the US as the rhetoric out of Washington becomes more pointed.

Rival powers

Earlier this month, China’s ambassador to Washington warned the Trump administration against adopting a confrontational approach toward China. In December, Trump called Russia and China “rival powers" when he unveiled his first national security strategy.

Liu’s US visit, which was reported earlier by Axios, will come a day after a planned meeting of the Communist Party’s Central Committee starts in Beijing, and before legislators gather early next month to approve new government leaders.

China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the trip. Phone calls to its ministry of commerce outside working hours went unanswered.

Trump has told confidantes that he wants to impose the harshest tariffs on steel and aluminium imports recommended by the commerce department, according to three people familiar with the matter.

After the Trump administration last year began a probe into China’s aluminium and steel sales and its intellectual property practices, China responded by launching an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation against US shipments of sorghum, a substitute for corn. Bloomberg

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