China promotes Foreign Minister Wang Yi to state councillor, General Wei Fenghe named defence minister

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 March, 2018, 10:12am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 March, 2018, 10:15pm

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has been promoted to a state councillor, a move elevating his status in the nation’s decision-making structure.

Wang will keep his foreign minister title in a list of government appointments endorsed by the National People’s Congress on Monday morning.

The move comes as China shakes up its foreign affairs structure in an effort to raise the country’s profile on the world stage.

Xi shakes up Chinese government to cut bureaucracy, end turf wars

The existing foreign affairs structure has been blamed for being ineffective as the official standing of the nation’s diplomats is often not senior enough in the decision-making process.

As a state councillor, Wang will be more senior than government ministers.

Wang, who has been foreign minister since 2013, is known for his staunch defence of China’s position in world affairs.

At a press conference on March 8, Wang said China had no intention to supplant the United States’ role in global affairs and that it was a “strategic misjudgement” for the US to brand China as a rival.

He also warned Washington not to get involved in China’s disputes with other nations over the South China Sea. Beijing, Taiwan and its Southeast Asian neighbours claim sovereignty over parts of the contested waters.

Will Wang Qishan’s new job become a problem for the Communist Party?

On Saturday, Wang Qishan, former anti-graft chief and a trusted ally of President Xi Jinping, was named vice-president. He is expected to take a major role in China’s foreign policy, in particular handling the nation’s rocky relations with the United States.

In October, Wang Yi’s predecessor Yang Jiechi was named a member of the Communist Party’s powerful Politburo.

Meanwhile, also on Monday, General Wei Fenghe, former strategic missile force chief, was named defence minister. Fu Zhenghua, now deputy minister of public security, was appointed justice minister.