China reportedly taps Taiwan affairs chief as foreign minister


TOKYO–China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Director Wang Yi, a former ambassador to Japan, has been tapped as China’s new foreign minister, a Japanese business daily reported Sunday.

The Sankei Shimbun said in a Beijing-datelined report that the decision to appoint Wang, who is widely known as well-versed in Japanese affairs, as its next foreign minister reflects China’s hope to improve its relations with Japan, which have been strained by a sovereignty dispute over the Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea.

China expects Wang, a career diplomat, to use his good relations in Japan’s political and business circles to help patch up ties with Shinzo Abe’s administration, the report said.

Wang, 60, worked at the Chinese embassy in Tokyo for five years from September 1989 and served as China’s ambassador to Japan from 2004 to 2007. He has been head of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office since June 2008.

Wang’s new assignment was initiated by outgoing Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who is set to retire in March, the Sankei Shimbun said, citing various Chinese government agencies as its sources.

Up until late last year, Chinese authorities were apparently determined to promote incumbent Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun, known as a faithful executor of new Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s hard-line policy toward Japan, the paper said.