What You Need to Know:
China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang, who has not been seen publicly for a month, has been officially replaced by Wang Yi, who previously held the position before Gang. The Chinese government did not provide a reason for Gang’s dismissal, but it comes amid a whirlwind of rumors ranging from health issues to an affair with a prominent Chinese newscaster.
Why it Matters:
While Gang’s unannounced “disappearance” was notably unusual for a diplomat in his position, it had no major impact to the Chinese government as Yi swiftly stepped into his place to attend the recent ASEAN summit this month in Indonesia and the ongoing BRICS meetings in South Africa. Despite Gang playing a key role in re-establishing communications between the United States and China last month during Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Beijing, his dismissal won’t likely have an effect on US-China relations or China’s foreign policy.
Who is Qin Gang?
Qin Gang is a career CCP diplomat and politician believed to have been a close aide to Chinese President Xi Jingping. Gang served the entirety of his career within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs apparatus, starting off as an attaché for the department of West European Affairs in 1992. By 2011 he became the Director of the Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and later the Director of the Protocol Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before he became the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2018. He served a two year stint as the Chinese Ambassador to the United States until he was named Foreign Minister on December 30, 2022, which came amid rapidly increasing tensions with the US.
Gang was last seen publicly in June 25, 2023, during a meeting with the Sri Lankan, Russian, and Vietnamese officials in Beijing. The Chinese government cited unspecified “health reasons” for the reason why he missed the ASEAN summit in Jakarta earlier this month, but gave no reason for his absence during high profile visits by American Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and U.S. climate envoy John Kerry. By now, speculations began to arise suggesting Gang had fallen out of favor with the CCP, but the exact reason remained up for debate.
One speculation revolves around Gang and Fu Xiaotian, a prominent newscaster and TV personality for the Chinese state-owned PhoenixTV. While none of this is confirmed, some have speculated that Gang, who is married with children, and Xiaotian had an affair, which resulted in a child out of wedlock. One such reason for the speculation is that Xiaotian posted to social media on March 18, 2023, that “Papa went off on a mission. He is too busy to celebrate the birthday. All we can do is wish him a happy birthday from afar,” which is one day before Gang’s birthday as he was meeting with Russian officials in Moscow.
While the reason for his dismissal remains unconfirmed, the Chinese government has begun scrubbing all mentions of Gang from their official websites.