"The Foreign Ministry is little more than a public-relations facade for the Chinese government. It is the weakest and least relevant department of the government, treated with contempt or neglect by China's more powerful security ministries. Foreign journalists and diplomats are obliged to deal with the Chinese Foreign Ministry because it is the only ministry that is routinely accessible yet it has so little clout in the Chinese system that its banquets and brickbats are little more than archaic rituals."
Mr. York will be leaving Beijing on December 28. He will be the Globe and Mail's correspondent in South Africa. His successor in Beijing will be Mark MacKinnon.