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3:11 pm - Tuesday November 25, 5270

Trump visit sees Chinese ambassador delay retirement

Agencies,

China’s top envoy to the United States has reached retirement age but is staying in the post to help steer relations through US President Donald Trump’s maiden visit to China next month.

Despite rumours he was about to step down and speculation about likely successors, ambassador Cui Tiankai, 65 this month, had been asked to postpone his retirement amid preparations for the Trump visit, diplomatic sources said, according to South China Morning Post.

Chinese diplomats said sweeping generational changes to the country’s diplomatic establishment were imminent following the promotion of State Councillor Yang Jiechi to the Communist Party Politburo and the unveiling of China’s new leadership make-up at the first plenum of the party’s 19th Central Committee on Wednesday, the day after its twice-a-decade party congress closed.

Cui had earlier said privately he would soon step down from the task of handling Beijing’s complex love-hate relationship with Washington. Sources said Cui remaining in the post underlined just how much importance Beijing was placing on Trump’s visit, which the leadership sees as a touchstone moment for bilateral ties amid signs of growing tensions.

It could also be read as a recognition of Cui’s personal contribution to keeping bilateral ties on track for the past four and a half years, pundits said. They generally speak highly of Cui, but said his retirement was unlikely to be postponed for long.

Former US diplomat Robert Daly said Cui was well-respected in the US and was an “extremely effective” ambassador, a valued interlocutor and a voice that was sought out in discussions around Washington, South China Morning Post added.

Posted in: World

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