Envoy to Middle East covers a lot of ground

Updated: 2016-04-11 08:31

By Wang Xu(China Daily)

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Gong Xiaosheng has visited seven countries on three overseas trips, traveling more than 41,000 kilometers in all - and that's just this year.

China's special envoy on the Middle East issue took up his post in September 2014 and said he is much busier now than when he was an ambassador.

The 63-year-old served as director of the Chinese Office in Palestine from 2003 to 2005, as well as ambassador to Jordan from 2006 to 2008 and ambassador to Turkey from 2008 to 2014.

He said there are no easy tasks for an envoy to the Middle East. The region is changing rapidly, but traditional issues like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict still exist, while hot spots like Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen also need to be addressed.

What makes his work extremely hard, he said, is trying to settle disputes by taking a balanced stance, "as all parties in a dispute usually want China to support them against the other". In addition, the Chinese mission must change its working pattern according to who it is talking with and what the latest changes to a situation may be, he added.

The constant traveling is also tough. It takes on average nine hours to fly from Beijing to the Middle East, but things can take much longer, Gong said.

"I remember once I was delayed in Paris for more than nine hours, and it's often the case that you have to rush to a place to attend a meeting right after you land and then rush to the airport again when its finished."

The diplomat said he also has trouble finding time for his family, even for the most important festivals for Chinese. "This year I was lucky. I got home just a day before Spring Festival, but I had to go on a trip right after," he said.