Working in Hong Kong will have given China's new ambassador to Vietnam, Hong Xiaoyong , invaluable experience in handling sensitive relations between Beijing and Hanoi at a critical time, experts say.
"The posts of commissioner and deputy commissioner in Hong Kong are very important. Hong Kong's situation is unique and complicated," said Xu Liping, a researcher at the National Institute of International Strategy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "The reason why he was chosen could be his ability to handle complicated issues is recognised by senior officials."
Just days after the riots targeting Chinese factories last month, Hong presented his credentials to the Vietnamese president, Truong Tan Sang. He later met representatives from Chinese companies to hear of the challenges of operating in Vietnam.
Yesterday, President Xi Jinping signed documents officially appointing 53-year-old Hong as the 17th Chinese ambassador to Vietnam and promoted his predecessor, Kong Xuanyou, 55, to director general of the Department of Asian Affairs.
Experts on China-Asean relations said the change in ambassadors was a regular personnel change and not directly caused by the recent tensions between Hanoi and Beijing triggered by a Chinese oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam.
"The dispute between China and Vietnam is not just on the level of ambassadors. It is the top political issue involving political negotiations," said Zhang Jie, from the National Institute of International Strategy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
"Just a change in ambassador cannot ease the tension between China and Vietnam."