Yang Jiechi, China's former envoy to Washington, has been appointed as the country's new foreign minister, the official Xinhua news agency says.
Yang Jiechi was China's ambassador to the US
It says Mr Yang, aged 57, replaced veteran diplomat Li Zhaoxing, 66, without giving any further details.
Mr Yang - who speaks fluent English - was one of Mr Li's deputies.
Mr Yang was involved in the talks between China and the United States during the spy plane incident in Hainan in southern China in 2001.
"China's top legislature has approved the cabinet nomination of Yang Jiechi, former ambassador to the United States, as the country's new foreign minister," Xinhua said in a brief report.
Mr Yang was born in 1950 in Shanghai, and studied at Britain's Bath University and the London School of Economics in the 1970s.
A specialist in US relations, he worked in China's embassy in Washington in the 1980s-1990s, before becoming ambassador there in 2001.
In 2005, he returned to China to become one of Mr Li's deputies.
Mr Li served as China's top diplomat since 2003.
This change comes as no surprise, the BBC's Daniel Griffiths in Beijing says.
China is in the process of moving a new group of younger politicians into office ahead of the all-important Communist Party congress this autumn, our correspondent says.
They are the fifth generation of leaders since the Communists came to power in 1949 and they are expected to play an important role in Chinese politics over the next decade or so.
Mr Yang's appointment comes at a time when China's international influence is growing rapidly but relations with the US remain at the top of Beijing's foreign policy agenda.
Mr Yang's experience may help ease tensions with Washington over trade and China's growing military power, our correspondent says.