Qin Gang, China’s foreign minister, was dismissed from the office on Tuesday, according to official media, after going a month without being seen in public. The report stated President Xi Jinping issued a presidential order to carry out the decision, but an explanation for Qin’s dismissal is nowhere to be found. Qin now holds the record for the shortest tenure as foreign minister in the People’s Republic of China.
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China’s Foreign Minister’s Quick Rise To Fame
Mr. Qin was regarded as President Xi’s confidant, and many analysts credited their friendship for his recent swift ascent through the diplomatic ranks.
Since Mr. Qin met with Andrey Rudenko, the deputy foreign minister of Russia, in Beijing on June 25, China has kept mum about his whereabouts for weeks.
President Xi Jinping withdrew Qin Gang from his position as China’s foreign minister following a special meeting of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Tuesday.
Meetings with foreign ministers from other countries, including Sri Lanka, were part of Mr. Qin’s last public appearance on June 25. The Chinese Foreign Ministry earlier stated during a press briefing that he was unable to attend the ASEAN talks in Jakarta due to “health reasons,” though it later took those statements out of the official transcript.
Since then, there has been no word on Mr. Qin’s condition, which has led to rumours regarding his current whereabouts both inside of China and overseas.
All Chinese Media Censored
The former foreign minister of China, Qin Gang’s account was removed from the foreign ministry website. Weibo, a Chinese social media site, blocked the news of his dismissal, indicating that he was strategically ousted for reasons that the officials do not wish to share with the general public or the world.
Hashtags such as ‘Qin Gang ousted from his role as Foreign Minister’ and ‘Qin Gang removed as Minister of Foreign Affairs’ were restricted or removed from Weibo.
A message reading “In accordance with laws, regulations and policies, the content of this topic is not available for the public” popped on the screens after searching both hashtags. The censorship shows that China doesn’t want its people to talk about Qin’s ousting, perhaps because it’s a far more complicated situation than a simple health concern.
In 2015, Zhang Kunsheng was fired from his job as Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and Director of the Protocol Department, and Qin took over those positions. Despite being fired for corruption later on, Zhang was never officially charged. Zhang at the time was the highest senior official to be fired as part of Xi’s anti-corruption drive.
Zhang Kunsheng’s biography and other ministerial activities were completely removed from the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website at the time of his departure, similar to what happened with Qin. One possibility is that Qin will be gradually sidelined on the basis of ambiguous allegations, just like what happened to Zhang Kunsheng.
The New Foreign Minister of China
Recently, China’s senior diplomat Wang Yi, who directs the foreign policy of the ruling Communist Party and is superior to Mr. Qin in the government structure, took over Qin Gang’s responsibilities.
“China’s highest legislature has decided on the appointment of China’s senior diplomat, Wang Yi as the new foreign minister after Qin Gang… as it closed a session on Tuesday,” state media source Xinhua stated.
After Qin Gang was appointed as China’s foreign minister, many were startled by his quick climb to fame. But looking at the present circumstances it wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that he might have acquired some rivals in the interim.