- By June 25, the Qin Gang was completely out of the picture.
- He replaced Wang Yi as foreign minister in December.
- In Gang’s absence, Yi was running the affairs of the ministry.
In a sudden reshuffle of top leadership, Wang Yi, director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission, replaced his successor Qin Gang as Chinese foreign minister.
Qin Gang was appointed as the country’s top diplomat last December after serving as the Chinese ambassador to the US. He was not seen in most of the recent official meetings and high-profile events, including the ASEAN foreign minister’s meeting.
While serving as ambassador to the US, Qin increased his presence in Washington through public and media events in which he explained the Chinese position.
Following his appointment as minister, he maintained a busy schedule, visiting Africa, Europe and Central Asia, as well as hosting foreign dignitaries in Beijing.
Qin’s absence has left a void at the top of China’s foreign ministry.
A visit to Beijing by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell this month was abruptly cancelled.
Bloomberg It was reported on Friday that the visit of British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly had been postponed due to Qin’s absence.
Top foreign policy official Wang Yi – who overtook Qin in China’s political hierarchy – meanwhile assumed some of his responsibilities, traveling to Africa this week to attend a BRICS meeting on security matters in Johannesburg.
Yi, 69, was China’s foreign minister from 2018 to 2022.
Beijing insisted on Monday that ‘China’s diplomatic activities are moving forward steadily.’
Asked about Qin’s now nearly month-long absence, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning told reporters: “I have no information to give.”
Where is Qin Gang?
Qin has not been seen in public since June 25, when he met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko in Beijing.
But his absence at a high-level ASEAN summit in Indonesia two weeks later raised concerns about him for the first time.
China’s foreign ministry said “health reasons” were responsible for Qin’s absence. But this has helped little to explain.
Hu Zijin, a prominent commentator, said, “Everyone is concerned about something but cannot discuss it publicly.” Global Timessaid in a post on Weibo.
“A balance needs to be struck between maintaining the status quo and respecting the public’s right to know,” he said.
The foreign ministry deferred further questions about Qin’s absence.