China’s U.S. Ambassador Qin Gang Promoted To Foreign Minister

China’s ambassador to the United States Qin Gang has been named as the country’s new foreign minister, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on its website today.

Qin, 56, will succeed Wang Yi at the post at a time when relations with the United States have been strained over geopolitical issues – most notably Taiwan – as well as trade disagreements.

Qin, whose previous posts include ministry spokesman in Beijing, regularly posts on Twitter, and at times has bought a soft touch to the complex Sino-U.S. relationship although he is also known as a “wolf warrior” over criticism of the West.

“Tried my first throw at an NBA game @WashWizards,” Qin said in a Tweet dated Dec. 27. “Also renewed our special relationship as Washington Wizards was the first NBA team to visit China in 1979 when our two countries established diplomatic relationship.”

In an interview with Forbes in May held in Washington, D.C., Qin was upbeat about overall ties between the two nations despite trade conflicts. “We are natural partners, because our economies are highly complementary,” he told me. “We are very optimistic about the potential and opportunities between our two countries.”

Speaking virtually at the U.S.-China Business Forum held at Forbes on Fifth in August, Qin, a fluent English speaker, was also optimistic about China’s potential to recover from Covid-related issues in the longer term.

“The basic features of the Chinese economy — full potential, great resilience, strong vitality, vast room for maneuver and plenty of policy tools — remain unchanged,” Qin said. “The various advantages of China’s development remain unchanged. We have full confidence in the future of the Chinese economy.”

One of Qin’s first tasks will be to handle the expected visit by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Beijing in February. That would follow a meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and China President Xi Jinping in November ahead of the APEC Summit in Bali.

Wang, the outgoing foreign minister, was named to the Politburo in October.

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