China refused to speak on Wednesday the day after the resounding dismissal of its now ex-foreign minister, Qin Gang, who has not appeared publicly for a month. His name has already been removed from the ministry’s website, which seems to show that he has fallen out of favor. However, he was close to the Chinese president, which suggests, according to one analyst, that no diplomat “is immune, regardless of his rank or the support he enjoys from Xi Jinping”.
The day after the surprise and unexplained dismissal of the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, radio silence on the side of the government. As a reminder, Qin Gang has not made any public appearance for a month and was formally relieved of his duties on Tuesday by parliament, after just over 200 days in his post.
Asked about his fate this Wednesday, July 26, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning referred journalists to an article published by state media.
Mao Ning also clarified that “China’s diplomatic activities all continue to move forward”. Qin Gang was replaced as foreign minister by the conductor of Chinese diplomacy, Wang Yi, a seasoned diplomat who was his predecessor in this post between 2013 and 2022.
Removed from ministry website
Any reference to Qin Gang on the website of his former supervisory ministry has in any case been removed. A search for his name yields no results, and links to articles discussing his diplomatic activities now return a message stating that the page “does not exist or has been deleted.”
Qin Gang, on the other hand, has not disappeared from the rest of the internet and his name and photos remain accessible on social networks, press articles and other official websites such as that of the central government.
Fallen out of favor
Rumors have been circulating for several weeks about the fate of this former ambassador to the United States (2021-2022), 57 years old and reputed to be close to President Xi Jinping. In particular that an adulterous affair with a presenter from a Hong Kong television channel would have cost him his place. Qin Gang has not been seen in public since June 25, when he notably met Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko in Beijing.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had justified the minister’s absence in early July for “reasons of health” before refusing to give more information on his situation.
According to one analyst, the disappearance of any reference on the ministry’s website, however, seems to indicate that it has fallen out of favor. “If it was a respected comrade who just got sick, I don’t think they would do that,” sinologist Bill Bishop says in his Sinocism newsletter.
“People outside the system have no idea what’s going on, and this episode demonstrates that Chinese politics are becoming increasingly unpredictable and unstable, albeit seemingly calm,” he told Reuters. AFP Ho-fung Hung, China specialist at Johns Hopkins University in the United States.
” No one is immune “
A career diplomat, Qin Gang became close to Xi Jinping when he was chief of protocol (2014-2018) and notably accompanied the president on his travels. It was this closeness to the head of state, according to some analysts, that allowed him to rise perhaps more quickly than other colleagues and to become deputy minister, ambassador to the United States, then minister. .
His dismissal seems in any case to show that no diplomat is protected against the vicissitudes of Chinese politics, believes an analyst.
“I think the main consequences (of this case) will be for senior Chinese officials, with this idea that no one is immune, regardless of their rank or the support they enjoy from Xi Jinping” , told AFP Neysun Mahboubi, a specialist in Chinese law.
This article is originally published on latribune.fr