BEIJING (Kyodo) -- China is planning to appoint Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Jianghao, who has worked in Japan as a diplomat for more than 10 years, as its next ambassador to the neighboring country, sources familiar with bilateral relations said Saturday.
Wu, who will replace the current ambassador Kong Xuanyou, also an expert on Japan, is expected to work toward stabilizing bilateral ties that remain precarious due to a territorial dispute and other issues.
A farewell reception for Kong, who became the ambassador in 2019, may be held in Tokyo by the end of February, the sources said.
Beijing has sought Tokyo's approval for Wu's appointment and has planned a meeting between Kong and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida before his departure, they said.
Wu has worked at the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo twice before -- between 1993 and 1998 as well as between 2002 and 2008 -- and has served as ambassador to Sri Lanka, and was the head of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Department of Asian Affairs before his promotion to assistant foreign minister in 2020.
Kong, meanwhile, has worked to improve bilateral ties amid a spat over the Japan-controlled, China-claimed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea alongside intensifying confrontation between Beijing and Washington over Taiwan.
Kong tried to organize a state visit to Japan by Chinese President Xi Jinping in the spring of 2020, but the trip was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.