British envoy to China wishes safe trip for new Chinese ambassador to UK in a tweet
Published: Jun 03, 2021 07:36 PM
Zheng Zeguang (left) and UK Ambassador to China Caroline Wilson
 Photo: Screenshot of Wilson's Tweet

Zheng Zeguang (left) and UK Ambassador to China Caroline Wilson Photo: Screenshot of Wilson's Tweet

Zheng Zeguang, a veteran diplomat, who was once "the youngest vice minister" of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, has reportedly been assigned as the new Chinese Ambassador to the UK, according to the British Ambassador to China's shared post and some people familiar with the matter. 

Chinese scholars and observers expect this veteran diplomat, who has vast experience overseas and especially in the US, will help improve China-UK ties.

Wishing China's new Ambassador to the UK" safe trip, British ambassador Caroline Wilson said in a tweet, and further added that "Zheng Zeguang and I agreed on our shared responsibility to promote constructive, productive UK-China relations," with a photo of the two diplomats attached with the post. 

In February, Zheng was replaced by Xie Feng, the former commissioner of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong, as vice minister of the foreign affairs, and Zheng would assume another position soon, according to media reports. 

Born in 1963, Zheng majored in English in the 1980s and studied in Cardiff University from 1986 to 1987, when he held a position in the Chinese Foreign Ministry. He worked in the Chinese Embassy in the US from 1994 to 1997 and from 2005 to 2008, according to a resume published by the ministry. 

Zheng was made vice minister when he was 52, becoming the youngest vice minister in the ministry in 2015, according to media reports. 

"He was born in South China's Guangdong, known as China's pioneer opening-up region, and with vast experience overseas, he also has a global vision and knows US affairs well," Wang Huiyao, president of the Center for China and Globalization, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

Being very familiar with US affairs will help him handle the relationship with the UK, as there are subtle connections between them and also with countries like Australia and Canada, Wang said. 

Some observers also said that assigning someone with abundant experience in US affairs also showed that the central government attaches importance to China-UK ties. 

As vice minister, Zheng earned respect with the impressive performance of his duties including summoning then US ambassador to China to protest against US provocation amid turbulent China-US ties.  

He summoned then ambassador Terry Branstad in July 2020, and lodged solemn representations over the US signing of the so-called Hong Kong Autonomy Act and related executive orders by then US president Donald Trump in opposing foreign interference in China's internal affairs. 

The Chinese diplomat pointed out that the US Act and executive orders are aimed at viciously attacking the national security law for Hong Kong, scrapping the special status of Hong Kong, and threatening to sanction Chinese entities and individuals, which is blatant interference in China's domestic affairs, and severely violates international law and the basic norms governing international relations.

The former Chinese ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, is known for his straightforward and outspoken rhetoric on China-UK ties. Liu told the Global Times in an exclusive interview last year that the UK now has an "understanding deficit" and a "trust deficit" in its policies toward China, calling for closer links instead of "decoupling" in order to promote trust, manage differences and remove these "deficits," Liu said in August 2020.

By following the US, the UK has been seeking to counter China's influence by playing the human rights card, raising voices about sending an aircraft carrier to the South China Sea and making a fuss over China's internal affairs including its policies on Xinjiang and Hong Kong, leading to continuing deteriorating ties.