China envoy wins quick approval by government

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China envoy wins quick approval by government

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Zhang Xinsen

After only 11 days, the South Korean government yesterday endorsed Zhang Xinsen, 57, as the new Chinese ambassador to Korea. Zhang is currently a director at the general office of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Normally, it takes a month before a country approves the designation of new foreign diplomats.

Zhang is the highest ranking official in the Chinese Foreign Ministry to be named as the ambassador to Seoul since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1992. China, a strong ally of North Korea, has been sending vice-ministerial-level diplomats to the North, and relatively low-profile envoys to the South.

A South Korean Foreign Ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the ministry will quickly notify China of Zhang’s endorsement. The official also said that Seoul decided to move rapidly because the top post at the Chinese embassy has been vacant since former Ambassador Cheng Yonghua left last month.

The Chinese government endorsed the appointment of Yu Woo-ik, then the South’s ambassador-designate to Beijing, in 17 days last November.

“It will be an honor to serve as the ambassador to South Korea. I will work to further improve Seoul-Beijing relations during my tenure,” Zhang said to South Korean foreign minister Yu Myung-hwan yesterday. Yu was in Shanghai to examine preparations for the World Expo 2010, which is scheduled to take place in May, and check conditions for a possible visit by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

A diplomatic source in Seoul said Zhang welcomed and escorted Yu around the expo site.

“It seems Zhang is returning thanks to the South Korean foreign minister in response to warm hospitality that Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping received from then-South Korean ambassador-designate Yu [Woo-ik] during Xi’s visit to Seoul last December,” the source said.

“We expect that President Lee could visit the opening ceremony of the World Expo,” Zhang said to the South Korean foreign minister.

Yu is scheduled to have talks today with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi, focusing on how to bring the North back to six-party nuclear disarmament negotiation table. Yu will also meet Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

Zhang graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University, known for producing top diplomats, and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.


By Kang Chan-ho [smartpower@joongang.co.kr]
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정부, 단 11일 만에 아그레망


장신썬 주한 중국대사 내정자는 17일 “(주한 대사로) 재임하는 기간 한·중 교역이 연간 2000억 달러 수준으로 늘어나도록 노력하겠다”고 말했다. 장 대사 내정자는 이날 상하이 푸둥공항을 통해 방중한 유명환 외교통상부 장관을 영예수행하면서 기자들과 만나 이같이 밝혔다. 지난해 한·중 교역 규모는 1409.5억 달러였다(무역협회 통계). 그는 이어 “한국은 내게 두꺼운 책과 같다”며 “그 책을 열심히 공부하겠다”고 덧붙였다. 한·중 관계에 대해선 기자들에게 손수 한자로 ‘백척간두 경상일루(百尺竿頭, 更上一樓)’라고 적어 주면서 “이는 한·중 관계가 역대 최상이며, 여기에 한 단계 더 좋은 관계를 만들자는 의미”라고 설명했다.

정부는 중국 정부가 지난달 말 신청한 장 대사 내정자의 아그레망(주재국 동의)을 이날 부여키로 결정하고, 곧 이를 중국에 통보할 것이라고 외교부 관계자가 밝혔다. 중국 정부가 아그레망을 제출한 지 11일 만에 내린 결정이다. 중국 정부는 지난해 11월 우리 정부가 신청한 류우익 당시 주중 대사 내정자의 아그레망을 17일 만에 처리했다. 장 대사 내정자는 이날 유 장관이 환구금융중심(環求金融中心) 등 푸둥 지역을 둘러보고 5월 개최될 상하이 엑스포 단지를 시찰하는 일정에 전부 동행했다. 그는 유 장관이 탑승한 항공기에 직접 올라가 영접했다. 외교 소식통은 “지난해 방한한 시진핑(習近平) 국가 부주석의 일정에 류 주중 대사 내정자가 모두 동행한 데 대한 답례의 성격도 있는 것 같다”고 전했다.

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