China's new ambassador arrives in India amid anticipation to improve ties
Published: May 10, 2024 05:58 PM
Photo: Courtesy of Chinese Embassy in India

Photo: Courtesy of Chinese Embassy in India

Xu Feihong, the newly appointed Chinese ambassador to India, arrived in New Delhi on Friday. With the position vacant for 18 months, the arrival of a new ambassador presents a valuable opportunity for both countries to enhance communication, minimize misunderstandings, and reduce misjudgments, analysts said, noting that Xu's assumption of office is also a positive factor toward fostering the return of bilateral relations to a path of healthy and stable development.

Officials from the Protocol Division of Ministry of External Affairs of India, Dean of Diplomatic Corps, Ambassador of Eritrea to India H.E. Alem Tsehaye Woldemariam and Minister Ma Jia, Minister Wang Lei, Minister Counselor Chen Jianjun from the Chinese Embassy greeted Ambassador Xu and his wife Tan Yuxiu at the airport, according to a release from the Chinese Embassy in India.

Xu is the 17th Chinese ambassador to India. Since former ambassador Sun Weidong left his position, the post of Chinese ambassador to India has been vacant for 18 months, marking the longest vacancy since the restoration of mutual ambassadorial appointments between China and India in 1976.

The official WeChat account of the Chinese Embassy in India published Sun's farewell speech on October 25, 2022. On November 23 of the same year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website announced that Sun, in his capacity as Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, met with Mongolia's ambassador to China.

Xu is a veteran diplomat with experience in several countries. According to the website of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he has served as the deputy director-general of the Department of the European Affairs, the ambassador to Afghanistan, the deputy director-general of the Department of Personnel of the Foreign Ministry, the ambassador to Romania and director of the Department of Service for Foreign Ministry Home and Overseas Offices. From 2021 to 2023, he served as Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Xu's assumption of office as the Chinese ambassador to India has caught attention. Before departing for India, Xu told media about his top priority tasks after taking office, saying that he would adhere to the important consensus between the leaders of the two countries, reach out to friends from all walks of life in India, sincerely enhance mutual understanding and trust, make efforts to restore exchanges and cooperation in various fields, and create favorable conditions for the healthy and stable development of China-India relations.

Photo: Courtesy of Chinese Embassy in India

Photo: Courtesy of Chinese Embassy in India

Ambassador Xu's selection from among senior officials of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs highlights China's significant commitment to bilateral relations, Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Friday.

Qian also noted that Ambassador Xu's assumption of office coincides with a crucial period in China-Indian relations. India is currently undergoing elections and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed a positive attitude toward China-Indian relations before the elections.

In an interview with Newsweek in April, Modi said that "we need to urgently address the prolonged situation on our borders so that the abnormality in our bilateral interactions can be put behind us." He also noted that stable and peaceful relations between India and China are important for not just the two countries but the entire region and world.

After the Galwan Valley conflict of June 2020, tensions between China and India escalated, and the China-India bilateral relations, which have been influenced by border conflicts, have remained at a relatively low level with multiple destabilizing factors. However, despite ongoing differences, the two countries have maintained dialogue and cooperation mechanisms, including talks between militaries and border negotiations, to prevent confrontations, analysts said.

Ambassador Xu's coming to India will help enhance communication between China and India, reducing misunderstandings and miscalculations, and promote the bilateral relations back to a track of healthy and stable development, said Qian, also urging India to seize the opportunity to work with China and jointly improve bilateral relations.