China’s ruling Communist Party gets new foreign relations chief

China has appointed Liu Jianchao to lead the International Liaison Department of the Chinese Communist Party, a national-level ministry in charge of China’s relations with North Korea and other socialist countries.

Liu, 58, replaces Song Tao, the party’s official newspaper reported late Thursday night.

As the foreign ministry’s chief spokesperson between 2006 and 2009, Liu, an Oxford-trained career diplomat, was seen by some foreign journalists as open and friendly.

After serving two ambassadorial postings to Philippines and Indonesia, he returned to Beijing and in 2015 led a global hunt for fugitives wanted at home for corruption.

In 2018, Liu was appointed as deputy director at the Office for Central Foreign Affairs Commission. Chaired by President Xi Jinping, the commission is China’s most powerful decision-making group on foreign policy.

He now heads the party’s defacto foreign ministry, which engages in diplomacy through interaction with political parties in other countries and is the main point of contact for countries ruled by Communist parties.

The International Liaison Department is separate from China’s foreign ministry, which engages with other countries at the government level.

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