China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang was dramatically removed from the public eye on Tuesday and replaced by his predecessor in a surprise and highly unusual shakeup of the country’s foreign policy leadership.
Qin, 57, a career diplomat and trusted aide to Chinese President Xi Jinping, was appointed foreign minister in December after serving as China’s ambassador to Washington.
No reason has yet been given for Qin’s departure, but officials have confirmed that his predecessor Wang Yi will now step back into the role.
Wang, who was foreign minister from 2013 to 2022, now serves as director of the ruling Communist Party’s foreign affairs division, making him China’s top diplomat.
The Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress appointed a new foreign minister on Tuesday, abruptly announcing the previous day’s meeting in a departure from the normally choreographed procedure.
The exodus comes amid a busy and critical diplomatic period for China following its emergence from pandemic quarantine earlier this year and Beijing trying to mend strained ties with international partners.
Kin was there played an important role In efforts by the US and China Restore the connectionincluding a meeting with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on June 18 during the US diplomat’s visit to Beijing.
In his last public appearance, a smiling Qin was seen walking with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko, who traveled to Beijing to meet with Chinese officials after a short-lived uprising by the Wagner mercenary group in Russia.
Qin’s disappearance from China’s foreign affairs agenda was not fully explained by the ministry, prompting intense speculation in a country known for its political openness.
The ministry briefly cited “health reasons” when he missed a diplomatic meeting earlier this month. But the official transcript of the meeting, later published on the ministry’s website, did not contain that response, and the following week a spokesman told him he had “no information to provide”.
Wang Yi’s absence caused an apparent disruption, given that he had already returned to the role to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) annual foreign ministers’ meeting in Indonesia earlier this month.
By Tuesday evening, Qin’s profile had been scrubbed from the Foreign Ministry website, replacing the page that had featured his portrait and welcome message earlier in the day with the message “information is being updated.”
Adding to the intrigue of Qin’s ouster are his close ties to Xi, who took power for a third term last fall in defiance of a rule with a new leadership team packed with loyal allies.
Qin’s rapid rise to the post of foreign minister, and his appointment of more experienced candidates last year, surprised some observers of elite Chinese politics but was widely seen as a sign of Xi’s confidence in the diplomat.
“Qin Gang was single-handedly elevated through the ranks by Xi. Any problems with him would reflect badly on Xi — a sign that Xi failed to pick the right person for the job,” Deng Yuen, a former editor of the Communist Party newspaper who now lives in the United States, told CNN earlier this month.
“When something unusual happens to a senior official, people wonder if their relationship with the top leader has deteriorated or if it’s a sign of political instability,” Deng said.
Senior Chinese officials have disappeared from public view in the past, revealing months later that they were being held for questioning by the ruling Communist Party’s disciplinary watchdog. Such sudden disappearances have become a common feature of Xi’s anti-corruption campaign.
It is unclear if any disciplinary action has been or will be taken against Kin.
Such information gaps are not uncommon within the Chinese political system, which by design lacks transparency in the inner workings of a party that controls all aspects of government and conducts decision-making behind closed doors.
Under Xi, this political opaqueness has expanded the Communist Party’s grip as the leader quashes dissent and concentrates power in his own hands. Political system and society And on a wider scale.
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