China’s new ambassador to the United States, Xie Feng, is a well-versed diplomat with extensive experience in handling China-U.S. relations. He officially took up the post in May 2023, replacing Qin Gang, who had virtually no experience in the United States before his appointment in August 2021. Xie’s appointment suggests that Qin’s appointment was an aberration, rather than a new trend, and that diplomatic experience is still valued in Beijing.
Xie has an impressive track record in handling China-U.S. relations, having served at the Chinese Embassy in the United States and in the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs. He was also the ambassador to Indonesia and the Foreign Ministry’s commissioner to Hong Kong, where he dealt with the 2019 protests and the enactment of the National Security Law. He was specifically tasked with handling China-U.S. relations in his previous post as vice foreign minister.
Xie made a strong impression in his new post at a meeting with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in August 2021, where he denounced the Biden administration for singling Beijing out as an “imaginary enemy” and demanded that China be treated as an equal. However, he has since taken a lower profile while holding frequent interactions with Americans. He has largely been the official face welcoming high-profile U.S. guests as China reopened to regular foreign travel in early 2023.
Xie’s messages at these meetings have been consistent with the official policy line that China remains committed to “opening up” and will “firmly pursue a path of peaceful development.” However, he has also struck a hopeful tone, focusing on enhancing exchanges and cooperation between China and the United States despite their profound differences and serious difficulties and challenges.
Xie’s appointment is a strong signal that Beijing is open to managing the obvious tensions between China and the United States by building trust and confidence. Recent talks between U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and China’s top diplomat Wang Yi have struck the most hopeful note in years, and there is a window of opportunity open for both countries to take concrete actions to deliver on the common understandings between President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden and explore the right way to get along with each other in the new era.
In conclusion, Xie’s appointment as China’s ambassador to the United States underscores the importance of diplomatic experience in handling China-U.S. relations. His 30 years of experience on China-U.S. relations make him well-equipped to manage the obvious tensions between the two countries and build trust and confidence. While no one expects China and the United States to become close friends, they can take steps to manage their differences and enhance their exchanges and cooperation, and Xie’s appointment is a strong signal that Beijing is open to truly doing that work.
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News Source : thediplomat.com
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