The post of one of the five state councilors, was handed to Foreign Minister Wang Yi by the Chinese. The announcement was made on Monday as they sighted Wang’s traits of protecting China’s interest in a challenging overseas arena.
It is not the first time a minister has been elevated to the post of state councilor, though it is not a common occurrence for a person to hold both posts. Wang was appointed to the post through voting on Monday, and will be reporting to the Cabinet, as state councilors do.
The position of Foreign Minister has been held by Wang since 2013, and has previously served in Taiwan Affairs Office as the head of policy-making. Apart from that, he’s served as an ambassador for China in Tokyo, and can speak fluent Japanese.
Owing to his appearance and seasoned diplomatic experience, Wang’s been termed as a ‘silver fox’ by the Chinese media, as well as by the public in online forums. Other diplomats regard him as a resilient professional, who can also be charming. He’s also been known to be friendly towards foreign media, something that is regarded as uncommon when it comes to Chinese officials. He’s managed to gain admirers for being quick witted on issues that have led to criticism of China. More specifically, he was praised for being tough on disputes relating to the South China Sea.
Wang will be continuing in his role of foreign minister, according to reports, while also taking on the responsibility of his new post as state councilor in a tricky political climate. Recently, the U.S. announced trade tariffs that they’ll be imposing on China, while expressing their support to Taiwan and opening talks with North Korea, all of which has caused the relationship between them and China to deteriorate.
Shi Yinhong, a Chinese diplomacy expert in Beijing at the Renmin University, and who’s offered advice to the government relating to diplomacy matters, shared his opinion on the matter. He said that Wang’s role in his new post, will largely be focused on implementing the vision of President Xi Jingping. He added that Wang will be trying to increase the global influence of China, though he won’t exercise much power over the country’s foreign policy and is expected to play a secondary role.
A more active role in foreign policy will still be played by Yang Jiechi, whom Wang has replaced as state councilor. Yang continues to be a member of Politburo, which is one of the elite ruling bodies of the Communist Party.
The 67-year old is will carry on with his work in the Foreign Affairs Leading Group, of which President Xi is the chairman. The body is responsible for directing and synchronizing diplomacy matters of China, where Yang plays the role of secretary general. He has served as a Foreign Minister but preferred to keep a quieter public profile, and it was a rare occurrence to see him talk to foreign reporters, despite him being a fluent speaker of the English language.