A high profile figure, Mr Zhao often hosted the ministry's media briefings. The reason for his unexpected transfer is unclear. He was considered the leading light of "Wolf Warrior" diplomacy, defined by its confrontational, combative approach, a stark contrast to the previously restrained brand of Chinese diplomacy. It is named after the highly popular, often jingoistic, movie franchise about the adventures of a Chinese special forces soldier.
In three years as foreign ministry spokesman Mr Zhao often courted controversy with his tweets. In 2020, Mr Zhao suggested that the coronavirus which causes Covid was manufactured by the US military and brought to China.