Sun, 17 Mar 2013 02:50:41 GMT

China appoints new cabinet; Yang Jiechi replaces Dai Bingguo

From K J M Varma
Beijing, Mar 16 (PTI) China''s long standing Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi was today appointed as country''s chief negotiator of India-China boundary dispute while Wang Yi, a veteran diplomat, replaced him in the new cabinet unveiled by Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

Yang replaced Dai Bingguo, the veteran Chinese chief negotiator of India-China boundary dispute for a decade.

The 3000-member National People''s Conference (NPC) today approved four new Vice Premiers, five State Councillors, who are ranked higher than Cabinet Ministers as well as 25 Ministers.

Yang, 62, who was the Foreign Minister for over six years, was appointed as State Councillor, succeeding Dai, 71.

The new position makes him top Foreign Ministry official besides China''s point-man for US, India and Russia, which Dai held for long closely interacting with the leadership of the three countries to build close ties.

Under the Chinese system, State Councillor was ranked higher than Foreign Minister.

Dai, on whom former President Hu Jintao relied a lot in shaping China''s foreign affairs, retired along with Hu''s administration.

Officials say from now on Yang would be the China''s Special Representative for Sino-Indian border negotiations that would be held with National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon. The two sides so far held 15 round of talks.

In the last decade, Dai negotiated with four top Indian officials ranging from Brajesh Mishra, J N Dixit, M K Narayanan besides Menon on border dispute and normalisation of relations, which picked up pace in recent years.

A student of Geneva School of Diplomacy, Yang earlier took over as Foreign Minister in 2007 replacing the veteran diplomat Zhaoxing.

The appointment of Wang, the veteran diplomat specialising in Asian Affairs, is regarded significant as he was till recently the Ambassador to Japan. .

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