China replaces Overseas Minister Qin after mysterious absence

  • Veteran diplomat Wang Yi returns to his previous position
  • Former US envoy Qin has loved a meteoric rise
  • However then disappeared from public view a month in the past
  • Qin served barely six months on this position

BEIJING, July 25 (Reuters) – China named veteran diplomat Wang Yi its new international minister on Tuesday, sacking former rising star Qin Gang after a mysterious month-long absence from the publish simply six months after he took workplace.

Qin, 57, a former aide to President Xi Jinping and envoy to the US, took the ministry in December however has not been seen in public since June 25, when he met with visiting diplomats in Beijing.

The ministry stated he was on sick depart with out giving particulars, sparking hypothesis and drawing consideration to the secrecy that usually shrouds communist management and decision-making in China.

Qin’s successor Wang, 69, was additionally his predecessor, holding the publish from 2013 to 2022 as ties frayed with rival superpower the US to some extent Beijing described as an all-time low.

He stood in for Qin whereas he was away and this week represented China at a gathering of BRICS nationwide safety advisers in Johannesburg this week.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Qin on June 18, throughout the US high diplomat’s first go to to China in 5 years. The US State Division then stated it had held “frank, substantial and constructive” talks, and Blinken invited Qin to Washington to proceed the talks.

Blinken then met with Wang on the sidelines of a regional assembly in Jakarta in Qin’s absence.

Chinese language state media didn’t clarify why Qin was fired, and the Chinese language Overseas Ministry didn’t reply to a request for remark. Xi signed a presidential decree to make the choice efficient, the official Xinhua information company reported.

“The shortage of clarification raises extra questions than it solutions,” stated Ja Ian Chong, a political scientist on the Nationwide College of Singapore.

“It additionally highlights the opacity and unpredictability, even the arbitrariness of the present political system.”

Qin’s obvious disappearance was not the primary unexplained absence by a Chinese language official.

Business Minister Xiao Yaqing disappeared from public view for practically a month final yr earlier than it was revealed he was beneath investigation for corruption.


US State Division deputy spokesman Vedant Patel stated in a daily briefing on Tuesday that it was as much as China to decide on its international minister and that Blinken had met with Wang a number of occasions.

“We’ll proceed to interact with Overseas Minister Wang Yi and different Chinese language officers, and we proceed to consider that sustaining strains of communication (is) extremely essential,” he stated.

Requested if Blinken’s invitation to Qin in Washington could be prolonged to his successor, Patel stated, “Finally it will be as much as the PRC to announce any journeys to the US.”

Qin was one in all China’s youngest international ministers, having fun with a meteoric rise that analysts attributed partly to his closeness to Xi. He twice served as Overseas Ministry spokesperson, between 2006 and 2014, and as chief protocol officer from 2014 to 2018, overseeing a lot of Xi’s contacts with international leaders.

He was posted to Washington as ambassador in July 2021, after a interval of surprising public vitriol between US and Chinese language officers.

Wang returns to move the Overseas Ministry as China seeks to re-engage with the world after years of COVID-induced isolation, as a mooted financial restoration fails to take maintain, and Beijing holds talks with Washington over Ukraine, Russia and Taiwan over commerce and know-how disputes.

“Wang Yi’s selection is rational,” stated Yun Solar, director of the China program on the Stimson Heart in Washington. “To convey a way of stability and credibility, China should select somebody high-ranking, authoritative and impeccable.”

Wang was promoted final yr to the political bureau of the Communist Social gathering of China, one in all China’s high management our bodies.

Hours after his reappointment was introduced, Pakistani Overseas Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari tweeted his congratulations, saying Wang was “a shrewd and seasoned diplomat”.

Qin’s political future stays unsure. Analysts famous there was nonetheless no readability on whether or not he would retain his position as a state councilor, a member of China’s cupboard.

“Qin’s dismissal with out clarification has left rumors and hypothesis about his disappearance untouched,” stated Dali Yang, a political science professor on the College of Chicago.

“His destiny is up within the air and is a stark reminder of the opacity of China’s political system.”

Requested about Qin by reporters, UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq stated, “Actually, we want him good luck. We hope he’s properly. However relating to questions on authorities officers in (the Folks’s Republic of) China, I feel it’s important to ask the federal government.”

Reporting by Yew Lun Tian, ​​Laurie Chen and Martin Quin Pollard; Extra reporting by Simon Lewis, Michale Martina and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Modifying by John Geddie, Nick Macfie, Andrew Cawthorne, Bernadette Baum and Daniel Wallis

Our requirements: The Thomson Reuters Belief Rules.

Laurie Chen is China correspondent in Reuters’ Beijing bureau, overlaying politics and normal information. Earlier than becoming a member of Reuters, she reported on China for six years at Agence France-Presse and the South China Morning Submit in Hong Kong. She is fluent in Mandarin.

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