China has appointed its United States envoy Qin Gang as the country’s new foreign minister, succeeding incumbent Wang Yi, who has been elevated to the ruling Communist Party’s Political Bureau.

It is uncertain whether Qin, 56, will take over the position immediately.

Gang, 69, has been appointed to the Communist Party Of China’s (CPC) powerful Political Bureau, making him the country’s senior diplomat.

“Congratulations to H.E. Qin Gang @AmbQinGang for his appointment as China’s new Foreign Minister! Looking forward to a splendid new chapter in China’s diplomacy,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson and Assistant Foreign Minister Hua Chunying posted on Twitter.

The declaration came as a surprise because the new administration, led by the new Premier, is set to take over during the annual Parliament session commencing March 5 next year.

A new central cabinet, the State Council, will replace the current one led by Premier Li Keqiang during the annual session of the country’s parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), which begins on March 5.

All top officials and ministers, with the exception of President Xi Jinping, will be replaced during the Parliament session.

Qin, who was previously the foreign ministry’s spokesperson until attaining the position of Vice Minister, has been closely linked with Xi over the last decade, accompanying him on all of his international trips, as per media reports. 

He has already been accepted into the CPC’s important Central Committee, and he and Wang are likely to play a significant role in shaping China’s diplomacy during the next five years.

Qin could possibly take over as Special Representative for the India-China Border Mechanism in place of Wang. Ajit Doval, India’s National Security Advisor (NSA), is currently the Special Representative.

As per media reports, Qin is known for his fluent English and frequent appearances on US media networks on China-related issues. He is known for his assertive attitude in articulating China’s foreign policy goals.

(With Inputs From Agencies)

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