|Wu Hongbo first Chinese special envoy to Europe|
|Author: CSEBA / SCMP|
|5th November 2019|
|BEIJING - China has named its first special envoy to take charge of European affairs ahead of a leadership reshuffle of the European Commission later this year, and as Beijing seeks support from Europe amid its protracted trade war with Washington.|
Wu Hongbo, a career diplomat who has held several posts in western Europe, has been appointed China’s first special envoy on European affairs.
“As two important forces in the world, China and Europe have formed a multidimensional, multifaceted and wide-ranging cooperation,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular press conference in Beijing on Friday.
Wu has also had extensive experience in the Hong Kong and Macau division of the Chinese foreign ministry, as secretary of the ministry’s Hong Kong and Macau unit, serving on the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group – set up to handle matters related to the 1997 Hong Kong handover – as well as deputy commissioner of the foreign ministry office in Macau.
Geng said China and Europe had an “important consensus and common interest in upholding multilateralism, free trade and building an open and inclusive world economy”. Appointing a special envoy would help to “strengthen communication, coordination and cooperation, and deepen mutual trust” between the two parties, he said.
The appointment comes ahead of a key leadership reshuffle within the European Commission, the executive branch of the EU. Incoming commission president Ursula von der Leyen from Germany is expected to replace incumbent Jean-Claude Juncker as early as December. She is expected to play a more
Following Washington’s lead, the European Commission released a paper in March which, for the first time, labelled China an “economic competitor” and “a systemic rival promoting alternative models of governance”.