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China’s Missing Minister: Foreign Affairs Leadership Change

Qin Gang has not been seen in public since June 25. His disappearance has sparked many rumors but the government has given no explanation.

The mystery continues to hover. Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang has been relieved of his duties, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Tuesday. It has been exactly a month since he was seen in public. In office since December 2022, he was replaced by his predecessor, Wang Yi, the state media said.

No reason is given by the agency, which at the same time unveiled other appointments, including that of Pan Gongsheng, an economist by training, at the head of the central bank.

Qin Gang, whose schedule has so far been busy, has not been seen since June 25. That day, he met the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, then his Vietnamese and Sri Lankan counterparts in Beijing.

Since then, he has missed several diplomatic meetings, including an important meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Indonesia in early July. The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, had seen his trip to China canceled.

Several theories circulate

A disappearance that generated many rumors on social networks, fueled discussions between Chinese and increased pressure on the authorities, who evaded many questions on the subject.

On July 11, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs had justified the absence of Qin Gang by “reasons of health”, before walling itself in virtual silence. Several theories have since been circulating, including one that the minister had an affair with a TV presenter – with whom he had a child.

Since the beginning of Qin Gang’s absence, his predecessor Wang Yi had already fulfilled some of the obligations of the now ex-minister. It was he who met the Secretary of the United States Treasury, Janet Yellen, in early July. Wang Yi is the Chinese Communist Party’s top diplomatic official, a rank above minister.

Lun Zhang, professor at the University of Cergy-Paris and coordinator at the Maison des sciences de l’homme, questioned on the subject last week, explained to us that if the disappearance of Qin Gang continued “for a few days”, he would be “necessarily replaced”, because its absence “was already costing China a lot of image”.

This article is originally published on leparisien.fr

 

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