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China boosts economic diplomacy

By Li Xiaokun and Zhao Shengnan (China Daily)

09:02, October 10, 2012

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday established the Department of International Economic Affairs to serve economic diplomacy, which is increasingly important in China's diplomatic blueprint.

The move shows that Beijing has recognized its increasing power in the economic field and is moving forward to make better use of it, Chinese experts said.

A rapidly growing number of international business disputes intertwined with political factors forced the Foreign Ministry to set up the new body to protect national economic security, they added.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily briefing on Tuesday that the new body will assume responsibility for international economic affairs including preparation for, and follow-up actions resulting from, Chinese leaders' attendance at significant events such as the G20 and APEC summits, and meetings of BRICS countries.

The department is set to work with other Chinese government organs to make arrangements for the country to cooperate in economic and development fields within the United Nations and other international and regional cooperation frameworks, Hong said.

It will also focus on research work on issues such as global economic governance, international economic and financial situation and regional economic cooperation, he added.

Zhang Jun, former Chinese ambassador to the Netherlands, was appointed as the first chief of the newly established department.

Zhang, 52, returned from the Netherlands in July. He previously served as deputy director-general of the ministry's international department from 2002 to 2004.

Economic topics closely related to politics are increasingly dominating major international forums like the G20, said Zhu Caihua, vice-dean of the School of International Economy under the China Foreign Affairs University.

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