Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang will not attend an annual meeting held among member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Indonesia this week for health reasons, he said. said a spokesman for his ministry on Tuesday.
The foreign ministers of ASEAN and China were due to meet on Thursday, ahead of the Asian association summit scheduled for Friday.
“State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang cannot attend this ASEAN ministerial meeting for health reasons,” spokesperson Wang Wenbinm said at a regular press briefing, without giving details. More details.
Senior diplomat Wang Yi will represent China at the meetings in Jakarta, the spokesperson said, confirming a Reuters report citing sources familiar with the matter.
Qin Gang, 57, took over from Wang Yi as foreign minister in December and was last seen in public on June 25 in Beijing after meeting with officials from Sri Lanka, Russia and Vietnam.
His absence has not gone unnoticed. Last Friday, Wang Wenbin was asked about an article by US political outlet Politico, which reported speculation that health issues could be the reason for the minister’s absence. He replied that he had “not heard of” this article.
Qin Gang was due to meet European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell last week in Beijing, but the meeting was pushed back just two days before the EU official’s arrival after China informed the EU that the dates were “no longer possible”, according to an EU spokesperson.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is due to attend meetings in Jakarta this week, presenting yet another opportunity for the two major powers to soften their strained relationship.
This article is originally published on challenges.fr