China yesterday elevated the status of its current foreign minister and selected a new defense minister as the country deals with rocky relations with the US and expands its military.
The National People’s Congress endorsed the appointment of Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) as state councilor, making him a ranking member of the country’s “Cabinet.”
He replaces Yang Jiechi (楊潔篪), China’s former top diplomat, who was tipped for a leading role in managing Beijing’s increasingly uncertain relations with the US under President Donald Trump.
While Yang was known for his good relationships with former US officials, it is unclear what advantages Wang, who was once ambassador to Japan, would have for handling the sensitive relationship at a time of growing trade tensions.
China’s chief diplomat also faces ongoing regional maritime disputes in the South China Sea, with Beijing facing criticism over its construction of artificial islands capable of hosting military equipment.
Yesterday’s government reshuffle included the naming of Lieutenant General Wei Fenghe (魏鳳和), a former missile force commander, as minister of national defense.
Zhao Kezhi (趙克志) was confirmed as minister of public security in charge of the police, while Chen Wenqing (陳文清), a former top official in the Chinese Communist Party’s graft-busting agency, remains minister of state security responsible for espionage and counterintelligence.
China has increasingly been deploying its intelligence agencies overseas to track down those accused of high-level corruption, along with other perceived regime opponents and critics who have moved abroad.
As defense minister, Wei is outranked by Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), who is also chairman of the Central Military Commission, and two vice chairmen, but will be the main interface between China’s 2 million-member armed forces and the rest of the world’s militaries.
China this year increased its military budget by 8.1 percent to about US$173 billion, making it again the world’s second-largest behind the US.
China’s Cabinet is headed by Premier Li Keqiang (李克強), the CCP’s No. 2 leader, who on Sunday was reappointed to a second five-year term by the legislature.
The vote came a day after Xi was reappointed China’s president with no limits on how many terms he can serve.
The legislature also approved the appointment of Yang Xiaodu (楊曉渡) as director for the National Supervisory Commission, created from a merger of the party’s internal anti-graft watchdog with one that oversees civil servants. It will have the power to detain suspects for up to six months without seeking court approval.
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
The military last week sent “no small number” of Marine Corps officers to the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Island, 東沙群島) following reports of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drill targeting the islands scheduled for this month. In an interview with Hong Kong’s Bauhinia Magazine published on Saturday last week, PLA National Defense University professor Li Daguang (李大光) confirmed that the Chinese army was planning to stage a simulated invasion of the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea this month. The islands comprise three atolls, with Pratas Island, at 1.74km2, being the largest. They lie southwest of Taiwan proper in the South