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China’s decision to transfer one of its most high-profile diplomats — and most senior Russia experts — to a state media regulator is fanning speculation that Beijing’s tensions with the West may be weighing on the appointment of the country’s next foreign minister.

Former Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng, who has frequently stood in for Foreign Minister Wang Yi in recent months, has been appointed as the deputy director of the National Radio and Television Administration, according to a statement posted on a government website. The lateral move out of the Foreign Ministry removes the Russian-speaking Le from the running to replace Wang, one of China’s most visible officials on the world stage.

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