China appointed the head of its arms control department to be the new ambassador to the European Union , filling a position vacant for almost a year. Veteran diplomat Fu Cong, 57, takes on the new role after serving as director general of the foreign ministry’s Department of Arms Control, which formulates policy on international arms control and disarmament. “Arrive in Brussels today and feel very honoured to start the new position,” Fu tweeted on Saturday. In a welcome message posted on the Chinese mission website on Saturday, Fu said: “China looks forward to seeing the EU become an important partner in the process of Chinese modernisation and share in the opportunities brought by China’s huge market and China’s efforts to advance institutional opening up and deepen international cooperation. “China stands ready to work with the EU to keep the right perception of each other, properly manage differences, carry out cooperation at a higher level and strengthen coordination in international affairs.” Relations between China and the EU , each a major trading partner for the other, have worsened in recent years with disputes over market accesses, human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, and geopolitical complications. Most of Fu’s overseas experience has been in Europe, including two terms at China’s United Nations mission, and a stint as a special assistant to former World Health Organization chief Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun. He joined China’s foreign ministry in 1987, and first joined the Arms Control Department in 1997. He returned in 2018 after serving in the UN roles. He succeeds Zhang Ming, who left Brussels in December 2021 to take up the top position at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, a major security grouping with China and its Eurasian neighbours. Zhang had been in the EU role since October 2017. Since then, EU officials have speculated that the delay in appointing a successor to Zhang suggested the bloc was not a foreign policy priority for Beijing. The announcement confirmed the Post’s exclusive report in September of Fu’s nomination. It comes as the EU and China failed earlier this week to resolve two trade disputes during lengthy talks – high-profile claims of attempts to coerce Lithuania and hi-tech licences. The EU will push on to the panel stage of the two World Trade Organization suits against China. In the first case, the EU claims China imposed discriminatory and coercive measures against Lithuanian exports, which were frozen out of the Chinese market late last year. In the second dispute, the EU claims China is using domestic courts to undermine intellectual property laws, thereby allowing Huawei Technologies, Xiaomi and other telecoms giants to secure cut-price technology licences. On December 1, European Union and Chinese leaders met for their first face-to-face engagement since before the pandemic, covering a range of thorny economic and geopolitical issues while also pledging to cooperate on matters of global importance. Chinese President Xi Jinping said China would work to ensure supply chain stability and threw his support behind the EU’s mediation efforts over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to remarks released by Beijing. European Council president Charles Michel, who visited the Chinese capital seeking to recalibrate ties, told his host the meeting was an opportunity to address the “multiple crises” confronting the world, “as well as the full breadth of the EU-China relationship”.