China’s new Ambassador to India, who takes charge amid a sweeping once-in-ten year leadership change in the Chinese government, will leave Beijing on Saturday to take up his post in New Delhi, according to officials here.
Wei Wei, who earlier served as the Ambassador to Singapore, will be the face of Beijing’s diplomacy in India as the Communist Party’s fifth generation of leadership asserts control following a transition process that will conclude in March, when recently-selected general secretary Xi Jinping replaces Hu Jintao as President.
Mr. Wei replaces Zhang Yan, who took charge in December 2007.
Mr. Wei (57), who has had extensive experience in Africa, will have little time to settle into his new posting: in coming weeks, India and China will hold a series of diplomatic engagements, covering issues ranging from recently strained defence ties to the long-running border dispute.
Next week, outgoing State Councillor and top diplomat Dai Bingguo — who will step down in March at the National People’s Congress or Parliament session — will hold what is expected to be his last high-level meeting with National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, his counterpart on the boundary issue, over which talks have made little progress.
Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma will then travel to Beijing later this month for the annual defence dialogue, which takes place following an across-the-board reshuffle in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
India and China resumed defence ties in 2011 after they were suspended for almost a year following the PLA's refusal to issue a visa to the then head of the Northern Command. Mr. Wei, who holds a master’s degree in law according to his official biography, had served as the Chinese Ambassador in Singapore since 2010. He earlier served as China’s Ambassador to Brunei, which followed stints in Embassies in Ethiopia, Kenya and Zimbabwe.