China's new diplomats signal thaw with Japan, keeping US at bay
BEIJING (REUTERS) - New Chinese leader Xi Jinping's appointment of two top diplomats last week displays a desire to repair relations with long-time rival Japan after months of disruption, while keeping the United States (US) and its strategic pivot to Asia at bay.
Mr Yang Jiechi, a hard-nosed former ambassador to Washington, has been named the state councillor in charge of the foreign ministry, its top post. A fluent English-speaker, he firmly believes the US should stay out of regional Asian affairs such as the South China Sea dispute.
The new foreign minister is Mr Wang Yi, a smooth and urbane diplomat who knows Japan well and will be in charge of repairing ties with Tokyo, damaged by a bellicose spat over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.
"China really does not want to see this kind of confrontation with Japan," said Mr Ruan Zongze, deputy director of the China Institute of International Studies, a think-tank affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.