Putting The Strong In China’s ‘Structurally Strong’ Global Narrative

Hua Chunying seen during a Foreign Ministry press breifing, October 2021, before her promotion to Assistant Foreign Minister

HUA CHUNYING WAS unstinting when it was her turn at bat as spokesperson at the Foreign Ministry’s daily press conferences at flailing even the slightest criticism of China implied by any question from foreign media to all corners of the ground with a powerful combination of steel, courtesy and certainty. 

Now she has been promoted from director of the ministry’s Information Department to assistant foreign minister, responsible for news, protocol and translation affairs. She is the only woman among the nine most senior officials below Foreign Minister Wang Yi — and the only one of the nonet born since the 1960s. 

This is a significant and early promotion for Hua, who in 2019 wrote in Study Times, the official newspaper of the Central Party School, that China’s voice in the world needed to be ‘structurally strong’, and that the government should be more aggressive in responding to criticisms and setting agendas: 

We should learn from the experience of countries around the world in constructing and arranging the right to speak, and build a discourse system with Chinese characteristics and Chinese style as soon as possible, and firmly grasp the power of interpreting China.

Adding:

We must pay attention to the changes brought by the 5G era to social governance and people’s lifestyles, actively explore and promote the in-depth development of media integration and enter overseas social media, so as to give wings to China’s moral power and ensure that Chinese discourse captures the moral high ground as soon as possible.

Her promotion suggests that will be the direction in which Beijing will continue to pursue its info-foreign policy, i.e., no diminishment of the lupine strength of China’s self-portrayal to the world.

Other senior-level changes at the ministry include the elevation of Xie Feng to deputy minister, where he will hold the policy planning and US and large regions portfolio. He returns to Beijing after four years as the ministry’s man in Hong Kong.

Deng Li has also been promoted to deputy minister but continues to hold the West Asia, North Africa, Africa and Europe briefs. Xu Feihong, director of the ministry’s services centre, has been promoted to assistant minister for administrative and financial work.

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