Elevated Chinese Foreign Minister To Be Key Negotiator In Border Talks

Wang Yi succeeds Yang Jiechi, 67, who last year was elevated to become a member of the CPC's politburo, a body of the CPC headed by Xi Jinping

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Elevated Chinese Foreign Minister To Be Key Negotiator In Border Talks

Wang Yi's name for state councillor and foreign minister was endorsed by parliament (Reuters)

Beijing:  China's tough-talking foreign minister Wang Yi was elevated today to the top diplomatic post of state councillor, a move which could make him the new special representative to handle boundary negotiations with India, according to officials. Wang, 65, would also continue to head the foreign ministry, becoming the first Chinese official to hold the dual post in recent years.

Wang's name for the post of state councillor and foreign minister was endorsed by the parliament - the National People's Congress (NPC), state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang proposed Wang's name as part of a new set of officials to head various positions for the next five years in the government headed by President Xi Jinping.

In Chinese power hierarchy, state councillor is ranked higher than foreign minister and considered as the top diplomat of the country. The state councillor is responsible for ensuring the policies of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) are implemented.

Wang succeeds Yang Jiechi, 67, who last year was elevated to become a member of the CPC's politburo, a high-ranking body of the CPC headed by Xi.

By virtue of being the state councillor, Wang is also expected to succeed Yang as China's special representative for India-China boundary talks, though officials say the Chinese government's position will become clear only after an official notification.

National security advisor Ajit Doval is India's special representative. Under this mechanism, the two countries have so far held 20 rounds of talks with limited success.

The special representatives of both sides are important posts as they play a major role in providing a policy framework for ties between India and China.

A tough-talking career diplomat, Wang served as China's vice foreign minister, China's ambassador to Japan and director of the Taiwan affairs office. A fluent English and Japanese speaker, he took over as foreign minister from Yang in 2013.

Chinese foreign ministry officials say that under his stewardship, the foreign ministry has acquired a higher profile unlike in the past when it worked under the shadow of the CPC and the military.

He along with Yang are likely to play a bigger role in strengthening China's influence in the neighbourhood and beyond under the leadership of Xi, who is now set for a longer tenure, perhaps for life as China's leader heading the CPC, the military and the presidency following the removal of the two-term limit for the president.

On March 11, the NPC, regarded as the rubber-stamp parliament of China, had ratified the constitutional proposal to remove the two-term limit followed by Xi's predecessors.

While outlining Beijing's foreign policy perspectives earlier this month, Wang had called on both India and China to shed "confrontationist stance" on issues of differences. "The Chinese dragon and Indian elephant must not fight each other but dance with each other," he had said, adding "if China and India are united, one plus one is not equal to two but eleven".

During the Doklam standoff, Wang had claimed that India "admitted" to entering Chinese territory and said the solution to the standoff was for its troops to "conscientiously withdraw" from the area in the Sikkim sector.

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