Chinese Foreign Minister Stripped of Position

( – Once a high-ranking official in the Chinese government, Qin Gang served as the Foreign Minister and was a key diplomat for the nation. He was a prominent figure in the diplomatic community, having met US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken. However, recent developments have seen Qin removed from his post, with a different individual now occupying his former position.

The Rise of Qin Gang

The Chinese government elevated Qin to the position of Foreign Minister in December. Before this significant promotion, Qin had been China’s Ambassador to the United States, a role he stepped into in July 2021. His appointment by President Xi Jinping stirred up some controversy, as Qin leapfrogged senior diplomats with lengthier service records.

In June, Qin and Blinken sat down for a discussion centered around US-China relations. The State Department referred to the sessions with Qin and Xi as “candid, substantive, and constructive”. Following a five-hour discussion, Blinken extended an invitation to Qin to visit Washington, DC.

Qin’s Unexpected Absence

Qin’s conspicuous absence became apparent in mid-July. The seasoned diplomat, aged 57, was notably missing from important meetings with US climate envoy John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. On July 19, NBC News broke the news that Qin had not been seen for three weeks. The last public sighting of him was on June 25, at a meeting with his counterparts from Vietnam, Russia, and Sri Lanka.

A scheduled meeting on July 5, between Qin and Josep Borrell, the European Union foreign policy chief, was abruptly cancelled by the Chinese government. Qin’s absence was also noted at a meeting with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Qin’s spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, attributed his absence to health-related reasons.

Mao Ning, the spokesperson for the Foreign Affairs Ministry, dodged inquiries about Qin’s whereabouts, stating that there was “no information to provide.”

End of Tenure

On July 25, the Chinese government announced that Qin would no longer serve as the Foreign Minister. His successor, Wang Yi, formerly a state councilor, was appointed to the position. The National People’s Congress Standing Committee made the announcement but did not provide an explanation for the change.

This move ended weeks of speculation about Qin’s status. Reports suggested that he may have been implicated in some form of inappropriate relationship while serving as ambassador. Richard McGregor, a senior fellow at Lowy Institute in Australia, told The New York Times that if the speculation turns out to be accurate, it should be a reminder that individuals’ private lives “can be as much subject to regulation as [their] public duties.” He added that any “conduct of an ambassador has national security implications.”

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