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China promotes Wang Yi as State Councillor, mum on his role as Beijing's point-person on border talks with India

Wang succeeds Yang Jiechi, China's senior-most diplomat, currently China's Special Representative on border talks with India.

Reported by: IANS, Beijing [ Updated: March 19, 2018 15:01 IST ]
Wang Yi

China on Monday promoted Foreign Minister Wang Yi as State Councillor, the country's top diplomatic post which conventionally entitles him to be the key negotiator on border talks with India. But Beijing was mum on whether he will be China's point-person on the vexed boundary issue.

Wang succeeds Yang Jiechi, China's senior-most diplomat, currently China's Special Representative on border talks with India.

So far, the high-level post of Special Representative has always been held by someone who had the background of China's Foreign Ministry.

Before being elevated to State Councillor in 2013, Yang served as the Foreign Minister. His predecessor Dai Bingguo was China's Deputy Foreign Minister.

Asked if Wang will be China's next Special Representative on border talks, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said: "The China-India special representative meeting is a high-level channel for the border issue exchange. It's also a level high mechanism for exchanges between the two sides.

"China attaches great importance to this mechanism. As (to) who will be the Special Representative, we will wait and see," Hua added.

While Wang will remain the Foreign Minister, Yang's role was not immediately known.

A hawkish Yang was elected to the powerful Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party last year.

He was a shoo-in for Vice Premiership, but his name did not figure in the list of four prime ministers announced on Monday.

Asked about Yang's future role, Hua said: "We all know that Yang Jiechi is the member of Politburo and he will continue to play a role in China's diplomacy."

If Wang is appointed the key man for border talks, he will deal with India's National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, who is its Special Representative on boundary talks.

China and India by far have held 20 rounds of talks on their 3,448 km of disputed border. The countries fought a war in 1962 and have seen their armies cross into each other's territories due to the different perceptions of the boundary.

Wang repeatedly slammed India during the 73-day military stand-off at Doklam in the eastern sector of their border last year.

The crisis, which further soured the already tense ties, was resolved in August.

Wang, however, struck a positive tone about Sino-India ties while addressing the media on the sidelines of China's ongoing annual Parliament session.

Wang said if China and India were united, then one plus will be equivalent to 11, a remark welcomed by India and answered in similar tone.

India's Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale last month met Wang, who had a meeting with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Wang had previously served as China's envoy to Japan and worked at the Asia desk of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

A foreign minister's job in China is not a top-notch one as the international units of the Communist Party have more say in the formulation of Beijing's foreign policy.

However, Wang's elevation indicates a bigger role for him.

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