On Tuesday, the state media reported that Qin Gang, the Foreign Minister of China was removed from office, after disappearing from the public eye for a month with little explanation from the ruling Communist Party. The 57-year-old is known as the confidant of President Xi Jinping. His absence had stirred some alarming speculations that had lost his status or was subject to one official investigation or the other.
The Foreign Ministry of China had previously said that Gang has been absent for “health reasons” but the ministry had refused to give any updates despite consistent questioning in recent times. On Tuesday evening, Xinhua, the media outlet of the state said, China’s top legislature had voted to remove Gang from office to be replaced with Wang Yi, his boss. Xinhua said Xi Jinping had signed a presidential order to effect the decision but did not give a reason for the removal of Gang.
Mao Ning, spokeswoman of the Foreign Ministry told journalists that she had “no information” to give and maintained that “China’s diplomatic activities are steadily moving forward” when she was asked about Gang earlier on Tuesday. According to Hu Xijin’s tweet, “Wang Yi is a veteran of China’s diplomacy, and he is greatly trusted by the whole country”. Hu Xijin is a notable commentator with the Global Times state newspaper. The trending information on the Weibo social media platform on Tuesday evening was the removal of Qin Gang and the appointment of Wang Yi.
A vacuum had been left at the top of China’s foreign ministry since the absence of Gang over the past four weeks. This month, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Joseph Borrell’s visit to Beijing was suddenly stopped. Bloomberg reported on Friday that a visit by James Cleverly, UK Foreign Secretary was also deferred as a result of the situation of Gang. Yale’s Rudolf said, “The whole situation makes the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Beijing’s diplomatic efforts look weaker than Beijing would like it to do”. The quotations are from The Punch newspaper.
Gang is from the northeastern city of Tianjin. He was a very close associate of Xi in a previous role as chief of the protocol department of the foreign ministry. Xi’s trust in Gang led to his promotion over more experienced candidates such as the number two diplomat of China and the US ambassador. “The quick rise of Qin Gang might have created some resentment among other senior people within the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” said Rudolf.
As an accurate, rapid, and confident speaker of the English Language, Gang was prominent in Washington through public and media appearances in which he fought to protect the Chinese geopolitical position. Earlier, he served as a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, where he was known and respected for answering difficult questions from journalists with sharp and biting responses.
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