China Daily (Hong Kong)
Veteran diplomat posted as vice-foreign minister
Members of priority groups will start receiving COVID-19 shots next week
Xie Feng, a veteran diplomat familiar with United States affairs and a public diplomacy expert, assumed his new post as a viceforeign minister, according to the Foreign Ministry’s website.
His current areas of responsibility are “policy planning, North America and Oceania, Latin America and the Caribbean, translation and interpretation”, the website said. His predecessor is Zheng Zeguang.
Born in Jiangdu, Jiangsu province in 1964, Xie has a master’s degree in public administration.
His diplomatic career started in 1986 as a staff member with the ministry’s Department of West European Affairs.
He first worked for the ministry’s Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs — the agency that takes charge of affairs in the region — from 1993 to 2000.
In 2003-2008, he took the post of the department’s deputy chief, and he led it as director-general in 2010-2014.
While in Washington, he first worked at the Chinese embassy in 2000-2003 as a counselor. During this period, he also showed up in the capacity of the embassy’s spokesman.
In 2008-2010, he returned to Washington and served as the embassy’s minister, and he took part in public events such as delivering a speech on China-US relations at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Xie’s first mission as an ambassador started in 2014 as he headed the Chinese embassy in Indonesia.
He recently finished his mission as the commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region starting from 2017.
In another development, Xu Feihong, a veteran diplomat familiar with European affairs and former deputy chief of the ministry’s Department of European Affairs, has taken the post of assistant minister.
He now takes charge of the ministry’s administrative and financial affairs, according to the website.
Hong Kong’s population will be getting vaccinated soon as the first million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, produced by Sinovac Biotech, arrived in the special administrative region from Beijing on Friday.
Receiving the vaccines at Hong Kong International Airport, Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen and Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee appealed to local residents to get vaccinated early to protect themselves and others.
Qiu Hong, deputy director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR, said the delivery of the domestically developed coronavirus vaccine fully demonstrates the care and support of the central government for Hong Kong.
Members of five priority groups, who are considered vulnerable or easily exposed to the virus, may make an appointment for the vaccine via an online booking system beginning on Tuesday. Inoculations will start on Friday at five community vaccination centers and the Hospital Authority’s 18 general outpatient clinics.
Stanley Chaing Chi-wai, chairman of Lok Ma Chau China-Hong Kong Freight Association, said he would register for the vaccine at the earliest opportunity.
Cross-boundary transport drivers and border control officers are among the five priority groups. Priority will also be accorded to healthcare workers, those aged 60 and over and public service providers such as cleaners and police officers. It is estimated that 2.4 million Hong Kong residents fall into priority categories.
Chaing called on cross-boundary service providers to get vaccinated early. There are about 12,000 crossboundary drivers in Hong Kong, he said.
Although the time needed for inoculations may affect the work of some drivers, he said these were “necessary sacrifices” to enable the sector to resume its effective and safe operation.
Chaing also hoped that after workers in the cross-border transport industry are vaccinated, some Chinese mainland cities would relax restrictions on Hong Kong transport workers. Some cities currently do not allow Hong Kong drivers to enter urban areas to load and unload goods.
In a statement on Thursday, the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers called on the HKSAR government to include teachers in vaccination priority groups so that schools can safely resume in-person classes.
Hong Kong schools have suspended on-site classes three times in the past year in response to COVID-19 outbreaks in the community. After the Lunar New Year holiday, only one-third of total students from each school are allowed to return to campuses, and only on a half-day basis.
Another 1 million doses of the Fosun Pharma/BioNTech vaccine will arrive in Hong Kong by the end of February and will be provided in another 24 community centers.
Hong Kong reported 13 new COVID-19 infections, including 12 locally transmitted ones, on Friday.