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Newsline: China Diplomat’s Transfer Upends Foreign Minister Predictions

China’s decision to transfer one of its most high-profile diplomats — and most senior Russia experts — to a state media regulator is fanning speculation over who will be foreign minister after an upcoming reshuffle. Former Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng, 59, who has frequently stood in for Foreign Minister Wang Yi in recent months, has been appointed as the deputy director of the National Radio and Television Administration, according to a statement posted on a government website. The lateral move out of the Foreign Ministry removes the Russian-speaking Le from the running to replace Wang, 68, one of China’s most visible officials on the world stage. The transfer comes as the ruling Communist Party shifts officials around in preparation for a twice-a-decade party congress later this year, in which President Xi Jinping, 68, is expected to secure a third term as leader. The event will overhaul the party’s top ranks, clearing the way for subsequent changes to top government jobs. Under traditional retirement rules, the country’s top diplomatic official, Politburo member Yang Jiechi, 72, would be expected to step down. That opens the possibility for Wang, who also holds the title of state counselor, to take up Yang’s more senior role leading the party’s foreign affairs commission. It wasn’t immediately clear why Le had been moved out of the Foreign Ministry hierarchy. The move will increase scrutiny on other contenders, including Liu Jieyi, 64, the head of the Taiwan Affairs Office, and Liu Haixing, 59, an official with Xi’s National Security Commission. Earlier this month, Liu Jianchao, 58, was named as the head of the party’s International Liaison Department, which interacts with overseas political parties. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/china-diplomat-transfer-upends-foreign-124348944.html) Le served several stints in the former Soviet Union and Russia, before becoming ambassador to Kazakhstan in 2013. He became the Foreign Ministry’s No. 3 official in 2018, as Xi’s ties with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin flourished.

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