Zhaoxing Li

Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to the United States

Ambassador Zhaoxing Li, ICAS Distinguished Fellow , was born in Shangdong Province, the hometown of Confucius. He graduated with honors from the prestigious Beijing University with a major in Western Languages and Literature. Later he obtained his MA at Beijing Foreign Studies University, formerly known as Beijing Foreign Languages Institute, a cradle of Chinese diplomats.

As a senior diplomat, the Ambassador began his diplomatic career in Africa. During the 1970's, he spent seven years in Kenya. In the 1980's, he was assigned as First Secretary and charge d'affaires a.i. of the Chinese Embassy in the Kingdom of Lesotho. He laid a firm foundation for the relations between the two countries during the two years when he was charged with the responsibility of establishing the Chinese Embassy there. From 1990 to 1993, he visited 33 African and Middle East countries when he was the assistant foreign minister in charge of that region.

Ambassador Li is also an expert on multilateral affairs. From 1993 to 1995, he was the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations. As the representative of China, one of the permanent members of the Security Council, Ambassador Li played a unique and important role in the world's most important international organization by helping maintain the world peace, and prevent and mediate in regional conflicts. During these two years, Ambassador Li built a profound friendship with then Ambassador Madeline Albright as colleagues. He had twice assumed the role of the Chairman of the Security Council. He directly participated in the re-democratization of Haiti, and was involved in many rounds of negotiations with the then Haitian president. Representing China, he had delivered around 300 key speeches on crucial issues concerning Iraq, Somalia, Burundi, Rwanda, Cyprus, and Central Asia, as well as issues on arms control, climatic change and human rights. In the conference room of the Security Council, the "Li Bell" named after Ambassador Li is still in use to remind people of being punctual at meetings.

From May 1995 to March 1998, Ambassador Li was serving as the vice foreign minister in charge of the China-U.S. relations, the United Nations and international legal affairs. He personally experienced the ups and downs of the Sino-U.S. relations from 1995 to 1997. During that period, he had led delegations to the United States many times for political consultations with the U.S. government, and attended the four summit meetings between President Zemin Jiang and President Clinton in the last four years. He ahs been a witness of the process in which Sino-U.S. relations have evolved from a low point to the current steady improvement and development.

Ambassador Li's U.N. background also brought him many titles and responsibilities. He had been the Deputy Director of the China Organizing Committee and the Deputy Head of the Chinese delegation to the Fourth United Nations Conference on Women. As the only male leading official representing China at this conference, he had played a very positive and unique role in organizing and convening this most widely represented conference in the U.N. history. Ambassador Li had also been the Deputy Head of the Chinese delegation to the 48th and 49th U.N. General Assembly, and the consultant to the 50th, 51st and 52nd General Assemblies. Ambassador Li had also been a leading member representing at the First Asian-European Meeting, three times at APEC's Ministerial Meeting. Ambassador Li had assumed leading roles as vice chairman in the China Committees of more than ten international organizations, such as UNESCO, the Framework Convention of Climate Change, the International Convention of Anti-Desertification, the Chemical Weapon Ban Treaty, the South Pole Committee, and the International Environmental Cooperation Committee. He had also been the Deputy Director of the Organizing Committee of the World Gardening Exposition, and the member of the National Anti-Drug Committee.

In his leading posts, Ambassador Li had represented China in many presidential inaugurations as the special envoy of the Chinese government in countries such as Argentina and Ecuador, and led Chinese delegations to visit 101 countries in five continents.

Ambassador Li was also a nationally renowned spokesman of the foreign ministry. From 1985 to 1990, he had been the ministry's spokesman while concurrently serving as Deputy Director General and later Director General of the Information Department. Even today, there are still many Chinese calling him Spokesman. He has a lot of journalists friends, and is always willing and happy to meet journalists.

Ambassador Li is also a literature enthusiast. During his college years, he was an adorer of Shakespeare. If he had not chosen foreign service as his life-time profession, he could have well become an expert in Shakespeare. He is now the honorary chairman of the Chinese Shakespeare Society, and the guest professor of Beijing University and Nankai University. Ambassador Li is also a scholar of good literary attainments. His first essay appeared in literature journals in Shanghai when he was only a teenager. The most widely read newspaper, the People's Daily, published his articles in as early as 1960's, and he has since been writing poems and essays for many Chinese newspapers and journals. His writings include many articles on human rights, and literary comments on the artistic styles of the American writer Mark Twain, the British writer Fielding, and the Russian writer Turgeniev.

Links for Zhaoxing Li
Bulletin of October 25, 2003
2000 ICAS Spring Symposium
China: Hub for Humanity and Peace in the New Century
Photo in Gallery

This page last updated September 27, 2012 jdb