Amidst great anticipation and under the shadow of intrigue, one of China’s prominent political figures, Qin Gang, who had risen swiftly to become the foreign minister under the patronage of Xi Jinping, has suddenly been ousted from his position. The announcement of his removal was unexpectedly low-key, lacking in details, and was disseminated through a brief statement on the Xinhua wire service, subsequently echoed on the main evening TV news. Qin Gang’s abrupt departure as China’s prominent global representative comes just six months after his appointment, marking a remarkably short-lived tenure. Curiously, his absence from official duties commenced around a month prior, attributed to an undisclosed health concern.
The timing of this recent change is intriguing and holds significant implications. It coincides with the mysterious absence of Qin Gang, the former Chinese Foreign Minister, who has been missing for the past 30-35 days. Even during the ASEAN foreign minister meeting, Minister Gang was conspicuously absent. Prior to his disappearance, Qin Gang, a seasoned diplomat, had assumed office in December 2022.
What adds to the intrigue is the evasive response of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson, who has been avoiding questions regarding Minister Gang’s absence. This lack of transparency has raised further speculation about the reasons behind his sudden replacement.
A look to Qin Gang diplomatic journey
Qin Gang, born in 1966, has experienced a remarkable ascent in his diplomatic career, commencing with his early role as a staff member at the esteemed Beijing Service Bureau for Diplomatic Missions in 1988. Over the years, he diligently served in various capacities within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, demonstrating his expertise and dedication.
Notably, Qin gained extensive experience during his tenure at the Chinese Embassy in Britain, where he showcased his diplomatic prowess and gained valuable insights into international relations. His exceptional performance earned him recognition, leading to two distinguished terms as the official spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Observers have pointed out that Qin’s close association with President Xi Jinping might have contributed to his rapid advancement through the ranks, assuming pivotal leadership positions. Despite the speculation surrounding his ascent, Qin’s accomplishments and capabilities in the diplomatic arena speak for themselves.
In a momentous move in 2021, he received a significant promotion to serve as the Ambassador to the United States, a role that allowed him to engage with one of China’s most crucial international partners. His diplomatic finesse and ability to navigate complex geopolitical challenges were evident during this relatively brief period.
Continuing his journey of influence and responsibility, Qin Gang received yet another momentous appointment last year, being elevated to the esteemed position of Minister for Foreign Affairs. This prestigious role entrusted him with a pivotal role in shaping China’s foreign policy and engaging with the global community.
Qin’s trajectory in the realm of diplomacy exemplifies a career marked by competence, strategic acumen, and close ties to China’s top leadership. His remarkable journey remains a testament to his diplomatic acumen and unwavering commitment to serving his nation on the global stage.
Who is Minister Wang Yi
Wang Yi, is renowned for his exceptional diplomacy skills and sophistication. He is also known as a cunning negotiator, capable of employing clever tactics when needed.
Around a decade ago, he sought to convince the Americans to engage in direct talks with North Korea regarding Pyongyang’s nuclear program, as North Korea desired. However, Washington resisted and insisted on having the Chinese present during the negotiations.
Unlike his immediate predecessors at the helm of the Foreign Ministry, Wang’s expertise does not solely lie in U.S. affairs, even though he spent six months at Georgetown University in the late 1990s and is proficient in English.
Interestingly, Wang is known to speak Japanese fluently, akin to a native speaker, according to those familiar with him. His career has predominantly focused on Asian matters, and he is highly knowledgeable about China’s major regional competitor, Japan, with whom China currently has a heated territorial dispute concerning a group of islands in the East China Sea.
Appointing Wang signals China’s emphasis on having an expert on Asian affairs in this position.And possesses a profound understanding of Japan, but that doesn’t mean he is lenient towards them.
Several reasons have been put forward to explain Qin Gang’s replacement by Wang Yi, the current Deputy of CCP foreign policy:
1) One prominent theory revolves around reports suggesting that Qin Gang was allegedly involved in an extramarital affair with a journalist of American origin based in Hong Kong. Such conduct is viewed critically by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which may have led to his removal. This situation echoes events in 2021 when Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai made allegations against a top CCP official and subsequently disappeared from public view.
2) Another reason cited by experts is that while Qin Gang held the position of Foreign Minister, major decisions, policies, and intricacies of foreign affairs were predominantly orchestrated by Wang Yi, the head of CCP foreign policy. This power dynamic could have fueled internal conflicts between the two officials, leading to Qin Gang’s ouster.
3) Despite high expectations as a close ally of President Xi and an expert in China-USA relations, Minister Gang might not have lived up to the anticipated performance during his brief 8-month tenure in office. His perceived failure to meet expectations could have contributed to his replacement.
What stands out as unusual in this situation is that Qin Gang’s predecessor and successor are the same person, Minister Wang Yi. This fact adds an intriguing layer to the whole situation and raises questions about the dynamics within China’s foreign policy decision-making process.
China has experienced previous instances of officials going missing without a clear explanation. For example, Industry Minister Xiao Yaqing vanished from public sight for almost a month last year. Later, it was disclosed that he was under investigation for corruption. The absence of a proper explanation has given rise to numerous unverified speculations about his whereabouts. Some suggest that he might have incurred the displeasure of the leadership, while others even spread rumors of a romantic involvement with a popular television presenter.
In summary, the circumstances surrounding Qin Gang’s removal as Foreign Minister are multifaceted and complex, involving potential personal misconduct, power struggles within the CCP’s foreign policy apparatus, and possibly unmet expectations in his role. The appointment of his successor, Wang Yi, who was his predecessor as well, adds an element of uniqueness to this political shake-up. However, the exact reasons behind Minister Gang’s removal remain shrouded in secrecy and speculation, given the Chinese government’s reluctance to provide clear answers.