China’s former foreign minister, Qin Gang, has disappeared from public view for over a month, sparking speculation about the reasons behind his removal. Qin’s absence began shortly after China’s top legislature removed him from his position. His name has been removed from the foreign ministry’s website, and search results for his name yield a message stating that he cannot be found. Though the foreign ministry initially cited health reasons for his absence, this explanation was later removed from official transcripts.
The sudden change in leadership, along with the erasure of information about Qin, has led to speculation about the motivations behind his removal. Analysts have suggested that Qin’s dismissal is unlikely to be due to health reasons, as the state could have assigned a deputy to fill in for him instead of removing him outright. Similar disappearances and erasures of officials in China’s history have often indicated corruption or falling out of favor with the ruling party.
Qin’s rise within the Chinese government was rapid, with him becoming one of the country’s youngest foreign ministers in December 2022. However, experts note that Qin’s removal from his ministerial position did not result in the removal of his other title as a State Councillor, indicating that his dismissal is more complex than it initially appears.
Qin’s ascent through the ranks has been attributed to his close relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping. He gained Xi’s attention while serving as the chief protocol officer during Xi’s first term, giving him direct access to the president during meetings with foreign leaders. However, if Qin’s removal is indeed due to other reasons, it raises questions about the stability of Xi’s leadership and the loyalty of those within his inner circle.
As China has implemented stricter regulations to combat corruption and enforce party discipline, incidents like Qin’s removal highlight the risks faced by political leaders. Qin’s disappearance sheds light on the opaque nature of Chinese politics and the potential volatility within the ruling party.