Envoy for Asia to prioritize Myanmar 'for now'
Updated: 2013-03-12 07:04
By Li Xiaokun (China Daily)
China has appointed its first special envoy for Asian affairs, and his top priority will be Myanmar, the Foreign Ministry announced on Monday.
The announcement came as Myanmar's government met Kachin rebels on the Chinese side of the border for renewed peace talks on the same day.
The negotiations, attended by Chinese officials, were held to resolve a festering ethnic conflict that has undermined local reforms, according to media reports.
Chinese experts said the government established Myanmar as the envoy's priority because "there have been too many issues recently", including the conflict and commercial problems. The envoy will deal with other Asian affairs, they said.
China has nominated former vice-minister of foreign affairs Wang Yingfan as the first special envoy for Asian affairs, and he will be mainly engaged in China-Myanmar affairs, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Monday at a daily news briefing.
Beijing has established three similar positions before - special envoys for Africa, the Middle East and Korean Peninsula affairs.
Xu Liping, an expert on Southeast Asian studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said, "China should have appointed a special envoy for Asian affairs long before."
"There are many issues in the region that affect China's national interests. I'm sure the special envoy will go beyond issues concerning Myanmar," Xu said.
Wang was born in 1942 and spent many years in the ministry's department of Asian affairs.
He was Chinese ambassador to the Philippines in the late 1980s and is a former director of the department of Asian affairs.