China’s foreign minister Qin Gang was sacked, following an abrupt disappearance that has lasted weeks. He will be replaced by his predecessor Wang Yi, state media reported.
We’ve curated insightful analysis and reporting on his absence and subsequent resignation.
It’s not unusual for Chinese officials and entrepreneurs to disappear under the guise of poor health or for no reason at all — only to surface weeks or months later without explanation or under criminal investigation. “Secrecy is the chosen mode of operation because for the Chinese Communist Party, information is a weapon,” said Willy Wo-Lap Lam, a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation. In the case of Qin Gang, the mystery surrounding the absence of such a high-level official at a time when China is attempting to shore up its diplomacy is “mind-boggling.”
A rumor attributing the minister’s disappearance to an extramarital affair with famous TV news anchor Fu Xiaotian has been reported by Taiwanese and Hong Kong media and has dominated Chinese social media in recent weeks. The BBC reported that searches for Qin’s name on Baidu, China’s biggest search engine, skyrocketed amid reports of his absence — up 5,000% in a week. Fu has also reportedly not been seen since a “flirtatious” TV interview between the pair surfaced online.
China’s Foreign Ministry has not confirmed or denied whether Qin is having an affair with the anchor who works for Chinese state-owned broadcaster Phoenix Television, but instead has responded with “no information.”
The last time the 57-year-old had been seen in public was on June 25, when he met with diplomats from Vietnam, Russia, and Sri Lanka. Since then, Qin had not shown up to scheduled engagements.
The Chinese government had initially refused to comment on Qin’s absence, but then subsequently said that the foreign minister was out of work due to ill health. When pressed for details, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said she had “no information to provide,” prompting further speculation from China watchers and social media users.