Liu He delivers a speech at the annual 2018 World Economic Forum. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty Images

Liu He, a top economic adviser to Chinese President Xi Jinping, will visit the U.S. from Feb. 27 to March 3, to discuss economic and trade matters, the Foreign Ministry confirmed on Monday. This will be the second top emissary to visit the U.S. in a couple months.

Why it matters: Beijing is trying to figure out how to avoid a much more contentious phase of U.S.–China relations. If China is serious about difficult financial reforms, then it needs to avoid risking its cleanup with significant economic friction with the U.S. The U.S. has leverage but so far I am hearing that the Trump administration has been unable to craft and implement a coherent strategy to use that leverage.

Timing: Liu's visit comes in the middle of the important Third Plenum meeting in Beijing, but that likely shows the Chinese Communist Party has already decided Liu's possible future roles (expected to be a Vice Premier with broad responsibility for China’s economic and financial matters).

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