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New ambassador hails warmer ties

By ZHOU JIN | China Daily | Updated: 2019-05-29 07:09

File photo: Kong Xuanyou. [Photo/IC]

Kong Xuanyou, vice-foreign minister and special representative of the Chinese government on Korean Peninsula affairs, will take up his new post as Chinese ambassador to Japan on Thursday.

Kong, 59, is a fluent Japanese speaker. During his 34-year diplomatic career, he has spent two-thirds of the time dealing with issues related to Japan.

He has served in Chinese diplomatic missions in Japan on three occasions, and was China's ambassador to Vietnam from 2011 to 2014.

The first time he served as a diplomat in Japan was in the 1980s. Kong said in an earlier interview with Japanese media that he was impressed by the developed economy and harmonious society in Japan, as well as the diligent Japanese people.

China and Japan are geographically and culturally close to each other, he said.

Since he was appointed vice-foreign minister in 2017, Kong has been in charge of affairs related to Asia, boundary and maritime affairs, treaties and laws, and consular services in the ministry.

The veteran diplomat will succeed Cheng Yonghua, who has been Chinese ambassador to Japan for nine years.

Relations between China and Japan have returned back on track since Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Japan last May and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Beijing last October.

In a group interview with Chinese media on Tuesday, Kong said that communication and cooperation between the two countries has intensified, and their interests are highly integrated.

Kong said that the two countries should continue to promote exchanges at all levels, continuously enhancing friendship between the two peoples and managing differences in bilateral ties.

This year is the China-Japan Youth Exchange Promotion Year, and according to Kong, China and Japan have identified a series of specific exchange programs, aimed at promoting exchanges among 30,000 young people in the two countries over the next five years.

He said the two sides will probably initiate a high-level consultation mechanism for people-to-people exchange this year.

Speaking of bilateral cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, Kong said that he hopes positive remarks made by Japan on the initiative will translate into concrete policies and practical action.

China is willing to continue promoting cooperation in various fields with Japan such as infrastructure, finance, logistics and information technology, he added.

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