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UPDATED: January 5, 2010
Foreign Ministry Has Three New Deputy Heads
All three new vice-ministers have more than 30 years of diplomatic experience


Aside from a solid professional career, the 57-year-old has won wide praise in recent years for her proactive and down-to-earth style, media savvy and in-depth knowledge about social issues.

As the Chinese ambassador to the UK, she has taken the lead to engage the British press whenever issues have cropped up, such as disruptions to the Beijing Olympics torch relay in April 2008 and the riots in China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region last July. This is a rarity among Chinese diplomats.

On a chilly, snowy evening on Apr 6, 2008, just hours before the London leg of the torch relay, many among the Olympics entourage lost faith that the relay would go on smoothly. Fu summoned the group, and members of the Chinese press, and urged them to stay calm.

"Please have faith in the British Metropolitan Police Service, who have ensured to do their best, and let's all work this out together," she told the group.

As an Olympic torchbearer during the London leg, even her own route had to be changed the next morning in the face of protests, but Fu kept her chin up during the relay.

The media-fueled protests continued as the torch made its way through Paris and San Francisco. Fu wrote an article in the Daily Telegraph on the matter, urging for mutual understanding and respect.

While in the UK, the vocal communicator never shied away from revealing her personal interests or opinions on some local TV programs such as the popular British show, The X-Factor.

Fu also has a private blog, which she updates regularly and shares with a group of friends.

Zhang Tuosheng, chief of the China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies and an acquaintance of Fu's, said he was "very delighted" to have such a character as a vice-foreign minister.

"Fu is a highly energetic and intellectual diplomat. She is always down-to-earth, easy to talk to, not like the typical Chinese official," he told China Daily.

"She was also among the first officials to be involved in the Six-Party Talks and boasts rich experience in all aspects of work," Zhang said.

Diligent worker who learns from others

The 56-year-old Zhai Jun started as an Arabic translator for State leaders and has been working at the Foreign Ministry for 35 years. He was selected from the Beijing Foreign Languages School, which was set up in the 1960s to cultivate people with foreign language skills.

After entering the Foreign Ministry, Zhai was sent to Cairo University to study Arabic for three years. He returned in 1975.

"He has excellent proficiency in the language," said Zhang Hong, dean of the Arabic department of Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU).

"He was an outstanding student at that time," said Qi Mingmin, a professor at the Arabic department of BFSU who worked with Zhai in Libya.

Zhai, a former assistant foreign minister, was promoted as vice-foreign minister in charge of West Asian and African affairs yesterday.

Before the elevation, Zhai was assistant foreign minister for three years. Prior to that, he had served as the head of the Foreign Ministry's department of West Asian and North African affairs from 2003 to 2006.

Zhai has also served as a diplomat in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the ambassador to Libya.

Zhai uses a notepad to take down notes from seniors, and he reflects on the experiences of others from time to time, Qi said.

"His excellence is due to his smartness, his willingness to learn from others and his ability to summarize experiences to guide future work, both his and those of his colleagues," she said.

(China Daily January 5, 2010)


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