On Tuesday, Beijing named diplomat Wang Yi as China’s new foreign minister, removing Qin Gang who has been mysteriously absent from duties for a month, Reuters reported.
A former aid to President Xi, the 57-year-old Qin took over as foreign minister in December but has not been seen in public since he met with visiting diplomats on June 25.
The foreign ministry claimed that Qin was absent due to unspecified health reasons, prompting speculation about his absence while drawing attention to the secrecy often employed by China’s ruling party.
During his visit to China last month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Qin on June 18. According to the State Department, the talks were “candid, substantive, and constructive.”
Beijing gave no reason for Qin’s departure when it confirmed that Wang Yi was appointed his successor.
Yi, 69, previously served as foreign minister from 2013 to 2022 until Qin took over in December. Since Qin’s absence, Wang has been filling in as China’s top diplomat, most recently representing the country at this week’s BRICS summit in Johannesburg.
In announcing the appointment of Wang as foreign minister, Chinese state media did not say why Qin Gang was removed. Likewise, the foreign ministry did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
The National People’s Congress Standing Committee appointed Wang as Qin’s successor on Tuesday in a meeting that was swiftly announced on Monday, CNN reported.
By Tuesday evening, Qin’s profile was removed from the Foreign Ministry’s website and the page was replaced with the message, “information being updated.”
Qin was last seen in public on June 25, walking with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko. Rudenko had flown to Beijing shortly after the short-lived rebellion of the Wagner Group.
Qin’s ouster comes as Beijing is seeking to mend strained relationships with its international partners.