On Saturday, March 16, the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp parliament, approved the appointment of Wang Yi as its new Foreign Minister, who replaced Yang Jiechi after he was promoted to China’s Cabinet. Despite having close ties with Japan, Japanese media sees nothing particularly positive about Wang’s appointment as regards the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands territorial row. It is unlikely, they said, that he would soften the stance of China on the islands.
Local newspaper Sankei Shimbun said, “Although Wang is fluent in Japanese, well versed on Japan and has contacts with the Japanese political world, it is contrarily damaging for him to be seen at home as sympathetic to Japan.” It took note of the fact that China’s outgoing minister has always spoken strong words against Japan, especially about the disputed territory; as such, it is difficult to expect that ties between the countries would improve anytime soon. Jiji Press also quoted a Japanese diplomatic source, who said that since Wang is very well-informed about Japan, he will be extra careful not to be criticized and called weak.
59-year-old Wang was ambassador to Japan from 2004 to 2007 and a diplomat in China’s embassy in Tokyo before that, from 1989 to 1994. According to Asahi Shimbun, it is likely that his foremost task is to normalize the relations between the two countries and to open a path for a dialogue, which is currently very challenging as both governments are very doubtful and suspicious of each other.[via AFP]