Stewards for the Future U.S.-China Economic Relationship

By Matt Goodman

U.S. Treasury Secretary Geithner & China’s Vice Premier Wang Qishan have served as the managers of the economic portfolio in the bilateral relationship for the last four years. Here they meet in Beijing as part of the S&ED in May 2010. Source: U.S. Treasury Department’s flickr photostream, used under a creative commons license.

The changing of the guard in Washington and Beijing over the next few months means new managers of the bilateral economic relationship.  For the past four years, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan have controlled the switches on the “E” track of the Strategic & Economic Dialogue, or S&ED.

Wang is widely expected to be promoted to the Politburo Standing Committee at next month’s Party Congress, while Geithner has made clear he is rejoining his family in New York whether President Obama is reelected or not.

In his new position, Wang will outrank a mere Cabinet secretary, so the job of managing the economic relationship with the U.S. should pass to a replacement vice premier: perhaps current Finance Minister Xie Xuren or Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Zhang Ping.

Another possibility is that a new Obama or Romney Administration will propose elevating the S&ED to vice-presidential level – something Joe Biden resisted four years ago – in which case new Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao would be the natural counterpart of either Biden or a Vice President Paul Ryan.

Mr. Matthew P. Goodman holds the William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy at CSIS and authors the Simon Chair’s newsletter Global Economics Monthly, which focuses on the U.S. & China this month. Read it here.

Matthew P. Goodman

Matthew P. Goodman

Matthew P. Goodman is senior vice president and William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy at CSIS, with particular emphasis on Northeast Asia.


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