New Delhi: Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, who has not been seen in public since 25 June, has been sacked with no reasons given, state-run media reported Tuesday.
His predecessor and current director of the office of the CPC Central Committee’s Foreign Affairs Commission Wang Yi has replaced him as the Foreign Minister.
This sudden announcement came a few weeks after speculations regarding Qin’s “disappearance” had been circulating across national and international media.
The rumours include an alleged extramarital affair with television journalist Fu Xiaotian, with reports claiming they had a child out of wedlock, who is a US citizen. The Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection had also questioned Qin on the matter, according to local reports.
Qin, who is considered close to President Xi Jinping, rose up the ranks from working at the Chinese Embassy in Britain, becoming the Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson to being appointed as the Chinese Ambassador to the US. He then replaced Wang, taking up the role of Minister for Foreign Affairs in December last year.
While on 11 July the Chinese Foreign ministry cited health reasons for Qin skipping the ASEAN Summit in Jakarta, no other details or updates were given for his lengthy absence. He was last seen in a meeting in Beijing with senior diplomats from Vietnam, Russia and Sri Lanka.
The decision to remove Qin was made at a special session of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee Tuesday, a day after the meeting of China’s top decision-making body, the Politburo.
Over the past month, Qin had skipped several international summits as well as high-profile meetings with US climate envoy John Kerry and most recently with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Instead, Wang had been seen representing China at these international meetings.
China had also cancelled talks between Qin and European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on 4 July without giving any reasons. Last week, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly postponed his trip to Beijing planned for the end of July due to his Chinese counterpart’s disappearance, according to the reports.