Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang has not been seen in public for nearly a month. His disappearance sparks an avalanche of speculation and rumors about his whereabouts.
What happened to Qin Gang? China’s foreign minister has not been seen in public since June 25.
Considered a trusted man of President Xi Jinping, he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs at the end of December 2022. Aged 57, this career diplomat, who speaks fluent English, notably spent several years at the Chinese Embassy in London.
Former Ambassador to the United States
In 2020, he felt that the image of China had deteriorated in Western countries because Europeans and Americans had never accepted the political system and the economic rise of the Asian giant.
Ambassador to the United States from 2021 to 2022, Qin Gang had gained visibility in this position, multiplying public appearances and statements to the press in order to explain his country’s position on international affairs. After his appointment as minister in December 2022, he has constantly had a very busy schedule, with visits to Africa, Europe, Central Asia and hosting many foreign officials in Beijing.
Absent for “health reasons”
His last public appearance dates back to his meeting in Beijing with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko. But it was his absence from a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Indonesia two weeks later that raised the first questions.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs had justified his non-presence by “reasons of health”. But that was not enough to stem an avalanche of rumors on Chinese social networks. The Foreign Ministry has so far evaded all questions about Qin Gang’s whereabouts.
Who represents China in his place?
His absence causes a vacuum at the head of the ministry. A visit to Beijing by the head of European Union foreign policy, Josep Borrell, was suddenly canceled in July. And the Bloomberg news agency claimed on Friday that a visit by British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly had been postponed due to Qin Gang’s absence.
It is Wang Yi, the real boss of Chinese diplomacy because of his high rank within the Communist Party, who fulfills part of the minister’s obligations in his absence. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs assures for its part that the diplomatic activity of China follows its normal course.
This article is originally published on lejsl.com