Dai   Bingguo

Dai Bingguo

State Councillor, China

Date of Birth: 1941

Dai Bingguo was last in Africa in February 2009, when he accompanied President Hu Jintao to Saudi Arabia, Mali, Senegal, Tanzania and Mauritius. The low-key diplomat's nondescript title of State Councillor belies his the extent of his influence in China's foreign affairs.

Born in 1941, Dai studied Russian at Sichuan University and China Foreign Affairs University. This led to diplomatic postings to the Soviet Union (1969-73) and, as Ambassador, to Hungary (1989-91).

He rose to become Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs before transferring to the Communist Party of China's own foreign affairs institutions. He was head of the CPC International Liaison Department (1997-2003), Secretary of the CPC Committee at the Foreign Ministry (2003-07) and State Councillor (from May 2008).

Dai currently runs the general offices of the Leading Group on Foreign Affairs and the Leading Group on National Security. These inner-circle groups, both headed by President Hu Jintao and president-in-waiting Xi Jinping, set the direction of policy for the Foreign Ministry. Here, in seniority and power, Dai outranks Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

The hierarchy became clear when President Hu abruptly abandoned the 2009 G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy, in early July. While Hu returned home to supervise the quelling of Uighur-Han clashes in China's restive western province of Xinjiang, Dai effortlessly picked up where his President had left off. He attacked the US dollar's dominance as a reserve currency and conferred with South African President Jacob Zuma, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and other leaders of the G5 rising giants. Dai's role in the CPC becomes more important because China's enagagement in Africa leads to more party-to-party cooperation, as is the case with South Africa's governing African National Congress.