Yang Jiechi, State Councilor, born in Shanghai in May 1950, PhD in history. Served as minister at the Chinese Embassy in the United States, director general of the Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs, assistant foreign minister, vice foreign minister, Chinese ambassador to the United States and foreign minister from 2007-13.
Wang Yi, Minister of Foreign Affairs, born in Beijing in October 1953, Master of Arts in economics. Served as minister counselor at the Chinese Embassy in Japan, director general of the Department of Asian Affairs, assistant foreign minister, vice foreign minister as well as Chinese ambassador to Japan. Also served as minister of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office from 2008-13.
With the completion of the transition of the Chinese state leadership and the reshuffling of the cabinet during the nation's annual parliamentary session just concluded on March 17, China's new foreign policy team has come to the fore. Former Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi was promoted as state councilor in charge of foreign affairs while Wang Yi, a veteran diplomat and former Vice Foreign Minister, was named new foreign minister.
Previously, Chinese Ambassador to the United States, Zhang Yesui, was appointed as executive vice foreign minister after completing his post in Washington. In the meantime, Cui Tiankai, Vice Foreign Minister in charge of Sino-U.S. relations, is slated to go to Washington to assume his new post as Chinese ambassador.
The new lineup of the Chinese foreign policy team highlights the new generation of Chinese leadership's expectations for seeking improvement while maintaining stability in China's foreign relations.
Yang is a senior diplomat known for his learned and refined temperament, moderate style as well as careful and strategic thinking. He has long been engaged in work relating to Sino-U.S. relations. During his tenure as Chinese ambassador to Washington from 2000-04, the Sino-U.S. relationship hit a low point following an incident involving a mid-air collision of a U.S. Navy surveillance plane and a Chinese fighter jet near south China's Hainan Island in 2001, but the relationship was soon after restored.
Having served three separate stints in the Chinese Embassy in Washington, Yang has wide social connections in the United States. Many of his U.S. friends affectionately refer to him as Tiger Yang—a reference to one of the Chinese characters in his given name.
Since April 2007, Yang has served as foreign minister. During his term, Chinese diplomacy began to settle into its role as a global power on the world stage. The awareness of diplomacy in serving the public was significantly enhanced.
At his last press conference as foreign minister on March 9, Yang said he felt pride in witnessing the rising strength of the motherland and its rising international status over the past several years. He added that he is especially pleased to see China's relations with all other countries forging ahead and that China is gaining many more friends in the world.
In the last six years, China's foreign policy team has overcome many thorny issues and resolved a host of crises. Though China is faced with a complicated international situation compounded by a fickle domestic social environment, the team has firmly stuck to China's diplomatic philosophy and principles, largely maintained the stability of Sino-U.S. relations, managed maritime disputes with other countries and promoted the peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Yang's foresight and willpower played an important role throughout the process. Facing the aggressive strategic pivot of the United States to Asia, Yang believed that it does not necessarily mean that China and the United States would confront each other in the region; instead, he said the two countries will likely find a path toward a new type of power relationship.