China replaces foreign minister Qin after mysterious absence

  • Veteran diplomat Wang Yi returns to previous position
  • Former US envoy Qin had meteoric rise
  • But then disappeared from public a month in the past
  • Qin served barely half a 12 months in position

BEIJING, July 25 (Reuters) – China named veteran diplomat Wang Yi its new foreign minister on Tuesday, eradicating former rising star Qin Gang after a mysterious one-month absence from duties barely half a 12 months into the job.

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

The ministry has stated he was off work for well being causes with out giving particulars, sparking hypothesis and drawing consideration to the secrecy usually surrounding China’s Communist management and choice making.

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

He has stuffed in for Qin throughout his absence and this week represented China at a nationwide safety advisers’ assembly of BRICS international locations in Johannesburg.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Qin on June 18, on the primary go to by America’s prime diplomat to China in 5 years. The U.S. State Department stated then they held “candid, substantive, and constructive” talks and Blinken invited Qin to Washington to proceed discussions.

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

Chinese state media didn’t say why Qin was eliminated and China’s foreign ministry didn’t reply to a request for remark. Xi signed a presidential order to make the choice efficient, state information company Xinhua reported.

“The lack of an explanation opens more questions than provides answers,” stated Ja Ian Chong, a political scientist on the National University of Singapore.

“It also underscores the opacity and unpredictability, even arbitrariness in the current political system.”

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

Industry minister Xiao Yaqing vanished from public view for almost a month final 12 months earlier than it was revealed he was being investigated for corruption.


U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel informed a daily briefing on Tuesday it was as much as China to decide on its foreign minister and Blinken had met Wang a number of occasions.

“We will continue to engage with Foreign Minister Wang Yi and other Chinese officials, and we continue to believe that keeping lines of communication (is) incredibly important,” he stated.

Asked whether or not Blinken’s invite to Qin to Washington can be prolonged to his successor, Patel stated: “Ultimately it would be for the PRC to announce any travel to the United States.”

Qin was considered one of China’s youngest foreign ministers, having fun with a meteoric ascent that analysts attributed partly to his closeness to Xi. He was twice foreign ministry spokesman, between 2006-2014, and chief protocol officer from 2014-2018, overseeing lots of Xi’s contacts with foreign leaders.

He was posted to Washington as ambassador in July 2021, after a interval of bizarre public vitriol between U.S. and Chinese officers.

Wang retakes the foreign ministry helm as China seeks to re-engage with the world after years of COVID-induced isolation, as a mooted financial restoration fails to realize maintain, and Beijing spars with Washington over points from Ukraine, Russia and Taiwan to commerce and expertise disputes.

“The choice of Wang Yi is rational,” stated Yun Sun, director of the China Program on the Stimson Center in Washington. “To convey a sense of stability and credibility, China needs to select someone who is senior, authoritative and impeccable.”

Wang was promoted final 12 months to the politburo of the Chinese Communist Party, considered one of China’s prime management our bodies.

Hours after information of his reappointment, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari tweeted congratulations, saying Wang was “an astute and seasoned diplomat”.

Qin’s political future stays unclear. Analysts famous there has not but been any readability over whether or not he’ll nonetheless maintain his position as state councillor, a member of China’s cupboard.

His identify remained on the record of state councillors on the English-language webpage of China’s State Council website, whereas the page on China’s foreign ministry website that is typically filled with the biography of the foreign minister and readouts of his actions merely learn “updating” on Tuesday.

“Qin’s removal without explanation has left intact the rumours and speculation about his disappearance,” stated Dali Yang, a political science professor on the University of Chicago.

“His fate is left hanging and is a glaring reminder of the opacity of the Chinese political system.”

Asked about Qin by reporters, deputy U.N. spokesperson Farhan Haq stated: “Certainly we wish him well. We hope he’s well. But in terms of questions about officials of the government of (the People’s Republic of) China, I believe you need to ask those to the government.”

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

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Laurie Chen is a China Correspondent at Reuters’ Beijing bureau, protecting politics and basic information. Before becoming a member of Reuters, she reported on China for six years at Agence France-Presse and the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. She speaks fluent Mandarin.

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