China’s foreign minister, Qin Gang, has been dismissed from his position, as reported by state media on Tuesday, following his unexplained absence from the public eye for a month.
The ruling Communist Party had provided little information about his whereabouts, leading to widespread speculation that the 57-year-old, known to be close to President Xi Jinping, might have fallen out of favor or was under official investigation.
Initially, the Chinese foreign ministry attributed Qin’s absence to “health reasons,” but as time passed, they refused to provide further updates despite repeated inquiries.
On Tuesday evening, Xinhua, a state media outlet, announced that China’s top legislature voted to remove Qin from office, replacing him with his superior, Wang Yi. The exact reason for Qin’s removal was not disclosed, but it was confirmed that President Xi signed the presidential order to effect the decision.
During Qin’s absence, rumors circulated widely, with some suggesting that he was being investigated for an alleged affair with a prominent television anchor. The lack of transparency from the Chinese government fueled speculations. However, some analysts urged caution and pointed out that Qin retains his position as a state councilor, which might indicate that this is a partial purge.
While Wang Yi has taken on many of Qin’s duties over the past month, he now holds two significant roles, leading some to believe this arrangement might be temporary. Wang, an experienced diplomat, is highly trusted in China’s foreign policy matters.
Qin’s absence had repercussions on China’s diplomatic efforts, leading to the cancellation of visits by foreign officials to Beijing. Despite his quick rise in the foreign ministry, some speculated that it caused resentment among other senior officials.