Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang has been elevated to the rank of State Councillor, which will put him in line for his likely appointment for the post of China’s Special Representative for India-China boundary talks, a high-level mechanism to discuss the boundary issue and improvement of ties between the two countries.
The National People’s Congress (NPC), the Chinese Parliament, which is holding its annual session on Sunday endorsed Mr. Qin’s appointment as Foreign Minister and elevated him to the status of State Councillor, a high-ranking position within the State Council or the central cabinet, the executive organ of the Chinese government.
Mr. Qin, 56, was appointed as the Foreign Minister in December succeeding Wang Yi who was elected to the Political Bureau of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), a key policy body of the party in the once-in-a-five-year congress of the party in October last year.
Mr. Qin’s elevation to the rank of State Councillor will put him in line for his appointment as the Special Representative (SR) of the India-China boundary mechanism formed in 2003.
Over the years, it also emerged as a key avenue to discuss the state of relations between the two neighbours beset with a host of problems besides the boundary dispute and steps to improve the ties.
Mr. Qin, who was the former ambassador of China to the U.S. and a close confidant of President Xi Jinping, visited New Delhi early this month to attend the G20 Foreign Ministers’ meeting during which he held talks with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.
Relations between China and India have virtually frozen ever since the eastern Ladakh military standoff between the two countries in May 2020.
The two countries have held 17 rounds of high-level military commanders’ talks to resolve the standoff.
India has been maintaining that its ties with China cannot be normal unless there is peace in the border areas.
The NPC also appointed a whole set of new cabinet ministers as part of a once-in-ten-year change of Chinese administration.
Li Shangfu, a member of the Central Military Commission (CMC) – the high command of the Chinese military, has been appointed as the Minister of national defence, succeeding Wei Fenghe.
Yi Gang has been retained as head of the central bank in an apparent effort by China to reassure entrepreneurs, investors and financial markets about continuity at the top.
Zheng Shanjie has been appointed as head of the National Development and Reform Commission, the main planning body of China, and Liu Kun, minister of finance.
On Saturday, the NPC endorsed the nomination of Li Qiang, a close aide of President Xi, as the new Premier, replacing Li Keqiang who retired after a 10-year stint.
Li Qiang, 63, stated to be a pro-business politician in Xi’s inner circle will be the number two ranked official of the CPC and the government after Xi, who on Thursday was confirmed as President and the head of the military for an unprecedented third five-year term.
Xi, 69, is the only leader after the party founder Mao Zedong to have more than two five-year tenures and he is widely expected to be in power for life.