Qin Gang, the ambassador to the United States, the new foreign minister

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China has a new foreign minister in the form of Qin Gang, previously ambassador to the United States. Signs of the importance Beijing attaches to the Sino-US relationship.

Polyglot, basketball fan, comfortable with the media and on social networks, Qin Gang embodies open and connected Chinese diplomacy, according to state media. He is also known for his blunt, even forceful rhetoric to assert Beijing’s interests. For the first time, a Chinese foreign minister has a Twitter account. It is also on the American platform that he responded to congratulations sent from especially the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.


Proximity to the head of state

This appointment is not a surprise. Last October, during the XX Congress of the CPC, Qin Gang was elected among the 200 permanent members of the Politburo. It is the first time, again, that an ambassador has had direct access to this level of the state apparatus since the end of the Mao era. Born in Tianjin to former Premier Wen Jiabao, it was under the latter that he first became a member of the Information Department and spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After several rounds between the Department of Western European Affairs, then the Department of Information and the Chinese Embassy in the UK, he became the youngest Deputy Foreign Minister in 2018. He will then accompany Xi Jinping on most of his foreign trips until the start of Covid.

He owes his rise in part to the head of state who will send him to defend the Chinese position asambassador to the United States and today appoints him head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Traditionally, new leaders wait for the spring meeting of the Chinese parliament to take office. This early appointment before the turn of the year reinforces an already well-filled CV and the thickness of a senior diplomat who, at 56, is still young for the post.

Fox or wolf warrior?


It is also likely a sign that Qin Gang is preparing to begin a long term in the tradition of his two predecessors: Yang Jiechi and Wang Yi. Will this stability lead to a softening of Chinese foreign policy known as wolf warriors » ? Former spokesman for Chinese diplomacy, Qin Gang said that by 2020, China’s image in the West had deteriorated because Europeans and Americans – especially the media – had never accepted the system policy and China’s economic progress, recalls.

According to some American observers, his visit to the Chinese embassy in Washington changed his profile of ” wolf ” to ” Fox ». An attachment to the stability of the Sino-American relationship and, more generally, an easing of relations with the West, which remains at the heart of his new functions. Although on the European side it is complicated. EU diplomats recall being told by Qin Gang, then deputy foreign minister: Please just shut up. There’s a new boss in town named China. You will obey and we will tell you what to do “.

Also read: China-European Union: from honeymoon to mistrust under Xi Jinping

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