Yang Jiechi(Photo: fmprc.gov.cn)
BEIJING, April 27 (Xinhua) -- China's top legislature
on Friday approved the cabinet nomination of Yang Jiechi, former ambassador to
the United States, as the country's new foreign minister.
Yang, 57, replaces Li Zhaoxing, 66, who has served as
China's top diplomat since 2003.
China's cabinet ministers usually retire at the age
of 65. Li, who has been dubbed the "poetic foreign minister" by the Chinese
media because of his fondness for poetry, was very popular. He is already a year
past the customary retirement age.
A veteran diplomat, Yang served in the Chinese
embassy in the United States for nearly 13 years over different periods in the
1980s, 1990s and the beginning of this century.
He started his diplomatic career in 1975 in the
Foreign Ministry and was appointed vice foreign minister in 1998. In December
2000, he succeeded Li as ambassador to the United States, a post Li had held
Shortly after becoming ambassador, Yang worked to
ease the tensions between the two countries following a mid-air collision
between a U.S. EP-3 spy plane and a Chinese fighter jet off the coast of Hainan
Island in the South China Sea.
During his term in the United States, he was said to
be able to balance the need to firmly defend China's national interests while
maintaining smooth and stable ties with the United States.
He also won acclaim for his efforts to promote
China-U.S. cooperation in fighting terrorism, improving trade ties and enhancing
exchanges in law enforcement, military affairs and on the Korean Peninsula
Back in Beijing, Yang was vice foreign minister
mainly in charge of Latin American affairs and foreign-related affairs involving
Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.
He was also seen frequently receiving high-ranking
U.S. officials in Beijing. Last November, Yang co-chaired the third China-U.S.
strategic dialogue in Beijing with U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns.
"He is an outstanding diplomat, and also an affable,
modest person," a diplomat close to Yang said.
In the introduction provided to the lawmakers, Yang,
a Shanghai native, was described as "down to earth", "dedicated", "prudent" and
a man with a "high sense of responsibility".
A fluent English speaker, Yang studied at the London
School of Economics and Political Science from 1973 to 1975.
He is also an alternate member of the 16th Central
Committee of the Communist Party of China.
Also on Friday, the Standing Committee of the
National People's Congress (NPC) approved the nomination of Wan Gang, a
non-Communist party member, as the country's new minister of science and
Wan, a member of the China Zhi Gong (Public Interest)
Party, replaces 65-year-old Xu Guanhua, becoming the only current non-Communist
Party minister in China's State Council.
Wan is vice chairman of the Central Committee of the
Zhi Gong Party, a non-Communist political party with more than 15,600 members.
Founded in 1925, the China Zhi Gong Party is mainly
composed of returned overseas Chinese, relatives of overseas Chinese, and noted
figures and scholars who have overseas ties.
Political observers said Wan's appointment was an
important political move after President Hu Jintao urged other political parties
to play an active role in pushing the country's reforms and opening-up.
A former automobile engineer at the Audi Corporation
in Germany, Wan, born in Shanghai in August 1952, was president of Shanghai's
Tongji University before his new appointment.
He began to work at the research and development
department of the German Audi Corporation in 1991, after graduating with honors
from Clausthal Technical University in Germany with a Ph. D degree in Mechanical
In 1996, he was promoted to technical manager in the
production and technology division, and took charge of information manufacturing
technology as well as management.
Wan's leadership and contributions to many
technological innovations are said to have helped the company achieve
outstanding financial results.
At the end of 2000, Wan returned home on the
invitation of the Ministry of Science and Technology and was appointed chief
scientist and group leader of a key national electric vehicle project.
In 2002, he worked as Assistant President of Tongji
and was promoted to president of the university in July 2004.
The top legislature also approved the nomination of
Xu Shaoshi, 55, as the Minister of Land and Resources, replacing Sun Wensheng.
Chen Lei, born in June 1954, was appointed minister
of water resources, replacing Wang Shucheng.
Both Sun and Wang have reached retirement age.