In a surprising turn of events, China has removed Qin Gang from his position as foreign minister, just seven months after he was appointed to the post.
Gang, who was considered a close associate of President Xi Jinping, will be succeeded by Wang Yi, the Communist Party’s foreign affairs chief. The move occurred after Gang was reportedly “missing” for over a month.
Theories are running wild on the internet surrounding Gang’s sudden disappearance from the public eye and the official silence that followed. The 57-year-old politician was last seen in public engagements on 25 June.
Where is Qin Gang?
Qin Gang’s absence drew intense scrutiny not only from diplomats and China watchers but also from ordinary Chinese citizens. When he went missing from his regular duties and did not attend a summit in Indonesia a month ago, the official explanation cited “unspecified health issues”.
However, the lack of detailed information from the ministry led to rampant speculation, including theories of political punishment or involvement in an extra-marital affair.
As one of the most high-level officials in the Chinese Communist Party to be absent for such an extended period, Qin Gang’s disappearance has sparked curiosity and concern. The Chinese public’s interest in Qin Gang’s whereabouts has been evident, with a significant surge in searches for his name on the country’s biggest search engine, Baidu.
How Can a High Ranking Official Disappear?
Qin Gang’s rapid rise to foreign minister was remarkable, becoming one of the youngest appointees to the post in China’s history. Prior to his appointment, he served as the ambassador to the US, earning a reputation as a tough-talking diplomat. His close work with President Xi on international trips further solidified his position in the government.
China has not given any specific reason his removal from office, leaving many questions unanswered. High-profile figures in China occasionally go off the grid for extended periods, sometimes reemerging as subjects of criminal investigations or without any explanation.
Not only politicians but high-profile figures in China are also known to go missing for prolonged duration. Billionaire Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, also pulled away from public eye multiple times despite having a colorful personality.
At the end of 2020, Ma suddenly disappeared, leading to serious concerns regarding his well-being. Rumors circulated that he could have been subject to house arrest or detained in some manner. Some even raised questions whether he was alive or not.
The stories were so intense because prior to his disappearance, Ma delivered a controversial speech at a public event, in which he criticized Chinese financial system.
New Appointment Amidst Secrecy
As the situation continues to unfold, the reasons behind Qin Gang’s removal from office and his prolonged absence remain shrouded in mystery. However, with the appointment of Wang Yi as his successor, China’s foreign policy direction may see some changes in the days ahead.
The appointment of Wang Yi as the new foreign minister was confirmed by China’s top legislature, with President Xi signing the decree authorizing the move. Additionally, legislators voted to replace China’s Central Bank chief, with economist Pan Gongsheng taking over the position from outgoing governor Yi Gang.
Under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) system, foreign policy is formulated by a high-level official who then directs the foreign minister to implement it. Wang Yi is no stranger to the role, having held it from 2018 to 2022. Currently, he is attending a Brics national security meeting in South Africa.