China Reportedly Boots Missing Foreign Minister

China Reportedly Boots Missing Foreign Minister

( – Qin Gang was one of the Chinese government’s highest-ranking officials. As the foreign minister, he was one of the most important diplomats in the country, even meeting with US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken. Now, he’s been ousted, and someone else has his job.

Who Is Qin Gang?

In December, the Chinese government appointed Qin as the foreign minister. Prior to his promotion, he served as China’s ambassador to the United States, assuming that position in July 2021. President Xi Jinping’s decision to appoint him to the powerful diplomatic position was somewhat controversial because he passed up older diplomats who’d been serving the country much longer.

In June, Blinken met with Qin to discuss US-China relations. The State Department called the meetings with him and Xi “candid, substantive, and constructive.” During a five-hour meeting, the secretary of State invited Qin to visit Washington, DC.

Missing In Action

In mid-July, reporters began noticing Qin had not been seen in a while. The 57-year-old diplomat missed high-profile meetings with US climate envoy John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. On July 19, NBC News reported Qin hadn’t been seen for three weeks. The last time anyone had seen him in a public setting was June 25, when he met with his counterparts from Vietnam, Russia, and Sri Lanka.

On July 5, the Chinese government canceled a meeting between Qin and Josep Borrell, the European Union foreign policy chief. He also missed a meeting with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. At the time, his spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, told the press he couldn’t attend the meeting because of health issues.

When reporters asked Mao Ning, the spokesperson for the Foreign Affairs Ministry, where Qin was, the official refused to answer, saying there was “no information to provide.”

You’re Fired

On July 25, the Chinese government removed Qin as foreign minister. Wang Yi, who previously served as the state councilor, is now assuming the position. The National People’s Congress Standing Committee announced the change but gave no reason for the ouster.

The decision capped off weeks of speculation about what happened to him. According to reports, there were rumors that he might have been involved in a compromising relationship of some sort while serving as ambassador. Richard McGregor, a senior fellow at Lowy Institute in Australia, told The New York Times that if the speculation proves true, it should remind people that their lives “can be as much subject to regulation as [their] public duties.” And any “conduct of an ambassador has national security implications.”

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