China’s Missing Foreign Minister: 3 Theories

In a terse statement, the official Xinhua agency announced that Qin Gang, who has not appeared in public since June 25, has been removed from his post. But where had he been for several weeks?

This is the end of a ludicrous situation and a kind of diplomatic vacuum at the head of power in Beijing. The head of Chinese diplomacy was dismissed on Tuesday July 25, after disappearing from radar screens. Qin Gang had indeed been absent at the end of June for a meeting with the head of European diplomacy, Joseph Borel. Absent also, at the beginning of July, for the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Indonesia. Invisible still in recent days, on the occasion of a tour of John Kerry in China or the meeting of the states of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (Brics) which had place in the latter country.

For a month, he was replaced by Wang Yi, the highest diplomatic official of the Communist Party, who had given up his place to him at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs last December, and who takes it over since he was the one who was appointed to replace him. .

The disappearance of Qin Gang has caused a lot of ink to flow, fueling a lot of rumors, because he was a protege of the Chinese president. 57 years old, brilliant diplomat, perfectly English-speaking, chief of protocol before being spotted by Xi Jinping. Appointed Ambassador to the United States, then Minister of Foreign Affairs in December 2022. A meteoric rise… but short-lived.

Dissensions in the Chinese apparatus
His dismissal should not silence the rumors, as the Chinese authorities have given no explanation. Extremely rare, it was made after a meeting of the People’s National Assembly of the Communist Party convened in just 24 hours. In a Chinese political system, which is totally opaque, we must therefore content ourselves with hypotheses:

– The first: Qin Gang’s state of health. This is the explanation that was given by Chinese officials when he disappeared from public view on June 25, but which has never been confirmed or verified.

– The second: an affair he would have had with a Chinese journalist-star who has also disappeared and who is overtaken by suspicions of espionage in the service of Uncle Sam.

– The third: dissensions within the Chinese apparatus. Qin Gang’s rise has upset some party cadres.

Known for smoothing things over, he was appointed in a context of detente with the United States to succeed Wang Yi, considered a “warrior wolf” of the Chinese Communist Party, but who finally regained control of Chinese diplomacy. If President Xi Jinping was unable or unwilling to protect one of his trusted men, it may be because he himself is weakened internally. Whatever happens, Qin Gang will, this time, disappear from the radar.

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