Could the fate of the missing Chinese Foreign Minister be known soon?

Arief Budi

Global Courant

BEIJING — A month after Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, 57, abruptly disappeared from the public eye, the government is tight-lipped, only saying on Monday that China’s diplomatic activities are “advancing steadily.”

But on the same day, Chinese state media also announced that the country’s top legislature will meet on Tuesday to review “a decision on official appointment and dismissal”.

This is somewhat unusual as it usually meets every other month and had just met in June. However, it can hold interim meetings in case of special needs.

- Advertisement -

Questions remain over the fate of China’s chief envoy, who missed a series of diplomatic meetings as his colleagues took his place.

So far, the only reason China’s Foreign Ministry has given is that Mr Qin had to miss a recent ASEAN meeting due to health reasons.

But with his unprecedented month-long absence and the government’s refusal to say more, speculation that he broke party rules has quickly gained momentum.

While the foreign ministry has maintained it is normal for the country’s diplomatic affairs, at least two meetings had been postponed because Mr Qin was unable to attend, raising questions about whether China’s foreign relations could be affected at a time when it is campaigning to make friends or mend fences.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly is said to have postponed a planned trip to Beijing this month to meet Mr Qin, Bloomberg reported last Friday, citing sources familiar with the matter.

- Advertisement -

The visit was an attempt by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to return tensions over China’s suppression of Hong Kong and the war in Ukraine to normal.

European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell also abruptly canceled his scheduled trip to the Chinese capital on July 10 after Chinese officials told him they could not receive him at the time.

The burden of Mr Qin’s portfolio has largely fallen on former Foreign Minister Wang Yi and current First Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu, who is the most likely man to succeed Mr Qin when he is no longer able to serve.

- Advertisement -

Last Thursday, Mr. Ma attended an extraordinary meeting of the foreign ministers of the Brics via video link, the second time he has taken Mr. Qin’s place for this economic group since early June.

Mr. Qin was expected to meet his Brics counterparts from Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa in Cape Town on June 1, but Mr. Ma later went in his place.

Could the fate of the missing Chinese Foreign Minister be known soon?

Asia Region News ,Next Big Thing in Public Knowledg

Share This Article