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China. Qin Gang, foreign minister, not seen for weeks. His absence raises speculation

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Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang has not been seen in public for three weeks. His absence, and above all the silence of the authorities about her, has given rise to numerous speculations in China – a country where the political reality is shrouded in mystery – writes CNN.

Qin Gang, 57, a career diplomat and trusted associate of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, took office last December as foreign minister. Before that, he was an ambassador for a short period China in United States.

After Sino-American relations were in a deep crisis following the shooting down of a Chinese spy balloon over the territory USAQin played a key role in efforts to stabilize shaky bilateral relations and re-establish communications between Washington and Beijing. In mid-June, he met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who had come to visit the Chinese capital.

Qin Gang was the Chinese ambassador to the US from 2021 to 2023 us.china-embassy.gov.cn

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“It’s really very strange”

On June 25, Qin met with representatives of Vietnam in Beijing, Sri Lanka and Russia. It was the last time he was seen in public.

In his last public appearance, a smiling Qin walked hand in hand with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko, who flew to Beijing to meet with Chinese officials after a short-lived revolt by Wagner Group mercenaries.

“Given China’s status and influence in the world, it is indeed very strange that their foreign minister has not appeared in public for more than 20 days,” Deng Yuwen, a former Communist Party newspaper editor who now lives in the US, told CNN.

At a press conference on Monday, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry was asked about the “disappearance” of the head of diplomacy. He replied that “there is no information to provide on this matter.” He assured that diplomatic activities are being carried out smoothly.

Qin Gang has not been seen in public for three weeksMichael Kappeler/dpa/PAP

Canceled meetings

As CNN writes, the absence of the Chinese minister has become even more noticeable due to the increased diplomatic activity in the Chinese capital in recent weeks, including visits by high-ranking American officials – US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and John Kerry, the presidential plenipotentiary Joe Biden for climate.

CNN reminds that in early July, Qin was supposed to meet with EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell in Beijing, but the meeting was postponed. Chinese authorities told Brussels that the meeting was “no longer possible at the agreed date,” Reuters reported, citing an EU spokesman. According to him, the union was informed of the cancellation of the meeting just two days before Borrell’s scheduled trip on July 5.

As CNN points out, Qin also did not appear at the annual meeting of foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held last week in Indonesia. Instead, the summit was attended by Wang Yi, the former chief of Chinese diplomacy and currently the director of the Bureau of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs of the PRC.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry told a news briefing that Qin could not attend the ASEAN meeting “for health reasons,” Reuters reported. However, this statement was not included in the official transcript of the conference, later published on the ministry’s website.

“The Chinese foreign ministry often omit content it considers inconvenient from transcripts of press conferences,” notes CNN.

Silence breeds speculation

A brief comment by a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about “health reasons” failed to stop the wave of speculation, largely unfounded, about Qin’s absence from the public sphere.

“These rumors stem from the lack of transparency in China’s political system, where information is closely guarded and important decisions are mostly made behind closed doors,” Deng Yuwen told CNN. “This is the problem of totalitarian regimes. They are inherently unstable, because everything is decided personally by the supreme leader,” added the analyst.

Deng said that if something out of the ordinary happens to a high-ranking official, “people will wonder if his relationship with the supreme leader has deteriorated or if this is a sign of political instability.”

Chinese leader Xi JingpingPAP/EPA/ANDY WONG/POOL

This is not the first time a high-ranking Chinese official has suddenly gone underground. It happened that a few months after the disappearance of an important official, the disciplinary body of the ruling Communist Party revealed that he had been detained as part of an investigation. “Such sudden disappearances have become a frequent feature of Xi’s anti-corruption campaign,” notes CNN.

Deng points to Qin’s close ties to the Chinese leader, who secured a third term in power last fall, with a new crew of loyal allies. “Qin Gang was personally nominated by Xi Jinping. Any problems related to him will also affect Xi, because it will mean that he chose the wrong person for such an important position” – assessed the CNN interlocutor.

Main photo source: us.china-embassy.gov.cn

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