On 6 May 2019, CCDI’s top liaison in MFA, Xie Hangsheng (谢杭生), was replaced by Zhang Ji (张骥). In recent months, Xi has been systematically bringing in officials from outside the diplomat circle to MFA, in what we believe is an effort to clean house in the ministry, the least-touched government entity in Xi’s anti-corruption campaign.
On 29 January 2019, former Deputy Head of CCP Central Organization Department Qi Yu (齐玉) was appointed Party Secretary of MFA, replacing the outgoing Zhang Yesui (张业遂), former Chinese
Ambassador to the US who has reached age of retirement. Qi has become the first MFA party secretary without any prior exposure to foreign affairs. His predecessors were all career diplomats.
MFA has been an isolated “kingdom” in Xi’s anti-corruption campaign primarily because most of the employees of the ministry, namely the diplomats, have been stationed abroad in embassies and consulates, making it extremely hard for CCDI to discipline or investigate. The position of CCDI’s top liaison in MFA had been mostly taken by diplomats—the retiring Xie Hangsheng was China’s ambassador to Bulgaria from 2002 to 2005 and to Denmark from 2005 to 2011, before being appointed CCDI’s top liaison in MFA. As such, Xie is more closely identified as a diplomat rather than as a CCDI inspector.
His replacement, Zhang Ji, was handpicked by former CCDI Chairman Wang Qishan (王岐山) as CCDI’s top liaison to the Office of Central Foreign Affairs Commission, CCP’s top foreign policymaking body directly reporting to the Politburo and the Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC). The Office is currently headed by Politburo member Yang Jiechi (杨洁篪). Before joining CCDI, Zhang worked for decades in Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM).
The appointment of Zhang Ji as CCDI’s top liaison in MFA, following the appointment of Qi Yu as MFA Party Secretary, reinforces our view that Xi’s CCDI will finally touch on MFA.