China's top climate negotiator removed from leadership list

China's Senior Climate Change Official Xie Zhenhua gives a speech during a plenary session at the Moon Palace, where climate talks are taking place, in Cancun, December 8, 2010. REUTERS/Henry Romero

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s top climate change negotiator has been removed from the nation’s leadership list, appearing to confirm media reports he has retired, but the move has left it unclear who will lead China at crucial climate talks in Paris at the end of the year.

Xie Zhenhua was appointed vice-chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in 2007 and led China’s negotiating team during talks aimed at securing a new global treaty to slash greenhouse gas emissions.

His name was removed from a roster of senior officials on the NDRC’s website ( on Thursday. The names of two other vice-chairmen, Zhu Zhixin and Xu Xianping, have also been removed.

Calls made to the NDRC on Thursday and Friday were not answered. Media reports have said Xie stepped down after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 65.

The agency has appointed Zhang Yong, former head of China’s food safety bureau, as its new vice-chairman, but it is not clear if he will lead China’s team at the Paris climate talks.

Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Michael Perry