Sun Weidong, who was the Chinese Ambassador to India till recently, has been appointed Vice Foreign Minister of China.
Sun, 56, recently returned to Beijing after a stint of over three years in New Delhi and has been appointed as the Vice Foreign Minister, official media here reported on Tuesday.
As per the Chinese Foreign Ministry protocol, India is one of the countries where the Ambassadorial posting was equivalent to that of a Vice Minister.
Before his posting to India, Sun, who was regarded as an India expert in the Chinese Foreign Ministry, also served as the Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan.
His designation as Vice Foreign Minister comes ahead of the top ministerial changes to be announced in March next year when the new administration will take over.
The current administration headed by Premier Li Keqiang will make way for a new cabinet by March as Li along with most of his colleagues except the Foreign Minister Wang Yi is due to retire or be replaced.
Li is due to retire as last month's once-in-a-five-year congress of ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), while conferring an unprecedented third term to President Xi Jinping as its General Secretary has elected a new set of officials at the top.
Xi is the only CPC leader to have been re-elected for the third term after party founder Mao Zedong, while all his predecessors retired after a 10-year tenure in power.
Wang, who is also the Special Representative of the India-China boundary mechanism along with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval has been elevated as he was elected to the high-power Politburo which makes him the highest-ranking Chinese diplomat in the new administration.
In the CPC hierarchy, the Foreign Minister is ranked lower than the members of the Politburo.
A new foreign minister, besides the new premier and other ministers, will be named during the annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) in March next year.