An article about China’s diplomatic relationships in Africa published by the state-run Global Times mentioned that “China’s foreign minister” visited the continent earlier this year. This statement is noteworthy since the current Foreign Minister, Qin Gang, was not mentioned by name and has been unaccounted for over a month.
Qin was last seen publicly on June 25 during a meeting with his Sri Lankan equivalent. Following this, he has canceled numerous significant appointments without sufficient explanations, including a recent summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Chinese officials have vaguely attributed “physical reasons” to his nonattendance but haven’t explained his situation.
Qin also didn’t attend a meeting in Beijing with the U.S. climate envoy, John Kerry. In his absence, his predecessor and currently the top diplomat, Wang Yi, has taken over his duties. Wang is touring Africa, visiting countries including Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa.
Due to the lack of concrete information, rumors have spread suggesting Qin might have had a political disagreement with Xi Jinping, could be suffering from a coronavirus infection, or could be facing disciplinary actions by the Communist Party due to his alleged relationship with renowned journalist Fu Xiaotian. Fu’s ambiguous social media posts have fueled speculation about a possible extramarital affair.
In the context of Wang’s ongoing African tour, the Global Times referred to the foreign minister without mentioning Qin’s name, which is the most recent official government mention of Qin.
The article, however, did not mention Qin by name, which is strange considering how the Global Times had previously covered his January African visit quite enthusiastically.
The Foreign Ministry, which Qin presumably leads, hasn’t mentioned him in over a week. Furthermore, Monday’s press conference transcript found no questions about his absence or references to Qin.
In the absence of a specific reference to Qin, the Global Times hinted last week at possible high-level purges within the Communist Party, citing the need for disciplinary measures.
Speculations about Qin’s relationship with Fu Xiaotian, a China’s Phoenix TV host, are rife. Fu claimed her last interview was with Qin in March 2022. Fu herself has also not made any public appearances or social media posts since Qin’s disappearance.
On Monday, it was announced that the “National People’s Congress Standing Committee,” a year-round legislative body, would convene on Tuesday to “review appointments and dismissals of officials.” This date will mark a month since Qin was last seen in public.