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Qian, 90, enhanced foreign relations

By LI XIAOKUN and MO JINGXI | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-11 07:39

Former vice-premier Qian Qichen, who was China's foreign minister for a decade, died on Tuesday night in Beijing, according to a statement from the central authority released on Wednesday. He was 90.

Qian was born in 1928 in Tianjin. In 1942, he joined the Communist Party of China as a middle school student in Shanghai.

After studying in the former Soviet Union, he began his diplomatic career by working in the Chinese embassy in Moscow in 1955.

Qian later served as ambassador to Guinea and director-general of the foreign ministry's Information Department.

He had a close relationship with the press. Early in his career, Qian worked at Shanghai's Ta Kung Pao, which is said to be the oldest Chinese language newspaper still in operation in China. While serving as head of the Information Department, he proposed establishing a spokesman system and even acted as de facto first spokesman of the ministry.

Qian was vice-foreign minister from 1982 to 1988 and minister from 1988 to 1998. He was vice-premier of the State Council from 1993 and retired in 2003.

Shi Yinhong, director of the Center of US Studies at Renmin University of China in Beijing, said Qian "made great contributions to China's relations with the US, Russia and neighboring countries".

"He was a very experienced diplomat. With a calm character, he was good at handling crises and was trusted by generations of Chinese leaders."

Qian was the first Chinese foreign minister to attend an ASEAN event, the 1991 ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Malaysia. It was the first time China formally recognized ASEAN as an institution and laid the groundwork for future ASEAN-China cooperation.

Ruan Zongze, executive vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said Qian managed to improve China's relations with Western countries in the 1990s.

"He was also the first Chinese diplomat to publish a book-Ten Episodes in China's Diplomacy-to reveal stories behind the scenes in his own perspective," Ruan said.

In 1996, Qian was appointed director of the Preparatory Committee of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

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