China’s ‘missing’ Foreign Minister: Who is Qin Gang, and what is known of his recent absence from public life

Qin Gang, the Chinese foreign minister, has apparently been absent from public view for about a month due to health issues. According to a Bloomberg article from July 21 and citing sources familiar with the situation, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has postponed a trip to Beijing scheduled for the end of July.
According to two of the people interviewed and one other, Qin’s position was one of many causes that caused the foreign secretary to postpone his journey. The article also stated that the two nations are considering other dates.
Due to Qin’s prominence and absence from recent foreign summits and meetings, rumours that the government might have forcibly removed him have surfaced.
These rumours are the result of a number of things, chief among them being China’s refusal to transparently disclose information about its government and how it operates. Famous people have a history of vanishng from the public eye for days due to behaviours that were perceived as being against the wishes of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Some well-known examples include the businessman Jack Ma, the tennis star Peng Shuai, and the actress Fan Bingbing. After a while, all three of them made another public appearance. Similar rumours were also made about Chinese President Xi Jinping for a while in 2012 and during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Qin, who was born in 1966, has advanced through the ranks ever since he was hired in 1988 as an employee of the Beijing Service Bureau for Diplomatic Missions. He has held roles at the Chinese Embassy in Britain while working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Additionally, he served two terms and many years as the spokesperson for the Foreign Affairs Ministry. His swift ascent to prominent posts has been attributed by some to his proximity to President Xi.
He was chosen to serve as the country’s ambassador to the United States in 2021 for a brief time before being elevated to the position of minister for foreign affairs in December 2022.
Since June 25, when he met with foreign dignitaries from Sri Lanka, Russia, and Vietnam, he has not been spotted in the public. Bloomberg said that Qing has skipped several international gatherings this month, including Xi and Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat, visiting former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Beijing. John Kerry, the US representative for climate change, was received by Wang the following day. Wang, rather than Qin, had previously attended a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Indonesia.
Qin’s absence from the ASEAN event was attributed to a “physical condition” by Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, in early July.
Several Western media sites questioned if Qin would be visible by September, when the G20 Summit will take place in New Delhi. They also mentioned the possibility that Qin is experiencing health problems and might soon make a comeback.
According to the BBC, there has been a “drastic surge” in searches for Qin’s name during the last several days on Baidu, the largest search engine in China. In a single week, searches for “Qin Gang” increased by more than 5,000%, according to the Baidu Index, making him far more popular than some of the most well-known Chinese celebrities, it added.
According to one of the most popular internet hypotheses, Qin was under investigation for an alleged extramarital affair. On Monday, when questioned about the allegation, spokeswoman for the foreign minister Mao Ning said she was unaware of the situation.
Such rumours have also been made about current President Xi. This first occurred in 2012, when he was slated to succeed Hu Jintao, then-leader of the CCP and president of China. Xi had missed meetings with former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Numerous reports during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic stated that he was “missing.”
Other instances show that prominent individuals have vanished, then returned and assumed a less prominent role.

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