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New envoy to Russia to boost nations' unity

By ZHANG YUNBI in Beijing and REN QI in Moscow | China Daily | Updated: 2019-08-13 07:02

Zhang Hanhui

Former vice-foreign minister, regional expert will help foster peace, stability

Beijing's new ambassador to Moscow, Zhang Hanhui, has assumed his office, reinforcing efforts of the two global powers to beef up their role in navigating hot spot issues and championing stability, analysts said.

The new role for Zhang, a veteran diplomat, former vice-foreign minister and expert on Russia and Central Asia, also shows the priority China places on robust coordination with its neighbor as well as its commitment to policy continuity, they said.

Zhang presented his credentials to the Russian Foreign Ministry on Monday. Li Hui served as top envoy to Russia for 10 years and recently left the job.

Like his predecessor, Zhang served as an assistant foreign minister and vice-foreign minister before leading the embassy in Moscow.

Such appointments showcase the "great importance" China attaches to countries such as the United States, Russia and Japan, Singapore-based newspaper Lianhe Zaobao said.

Zhang, 55, started his diplomatic career in 1988. His posts included Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. He formerly headed the Foreign Ministry's Department of European-Central Asian Affairs.

Speaking to the media on his arrival in Moscow on Saturday, Zhang said China-Russia relations are crucial to both countries and "are significant in maintaining global peace and stability as well". Beijing and Moscow have been working together to boost global governance and mediate thorny regional issues.

In June, President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, attended the China-Russia-India leaders meeting and a China-Russia-Mongolia meeting on the sidelines of regional or international gatherings.

Sun Zhuangzhi, head of the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China-Russia ties are being empowered and consolidated by their close and effective coordination in the global arena.

The political mutual trust between the two countries is advancing alongside their reinforced trust in military affairs, Sun added.

On July 23, the air forces of the two countries conducted their first joint airspace strategic patrol in the Northeast Asian region.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in talks with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi last month that the two countries' strategic coordination is strong and can withstand blows from any external sources.

Ji Zhiye, former president of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said both countries seek an environment to enable their own development through reinforcing their strategic coordination.

Both nations are faced with factors that challenge globalization and multilateralism, and they both must confront rampant terrorism and extremism, Ji said.

Oleg Timofeev, an associate professor of China studies at Peoples' Friendship University of Russia, said Zhang has as much experience as his predecessor in handling regional affairs and his new role will give a major boost to bilateral ties.

The nations' two-way trade in the first seven months of the year registered year-on-year growth of 4.7 percent, standing at $61.1 billion, according to Chinese customs officials.

The two countries are promoting links between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union, demonstrating efforts by China and Russia to work together to face global challenges, said Sergei Lousianin, director of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Under the threats of unilateralism, protectionism and hegemonism, they continue to jointly build a community with a shared future for mankind and to inject positive energy into the peace and stability of the world, he said.

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