Where is Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang? Rumours swirl as lawmaker remains ‘missing’ for nearly a month

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang has been missing from the public eye for a month, raising questions about his whereabouts and sparking speculation. Chinese officials cite health reasons for his absence, but skepticism remains.

Anwesha Mitra
First Published17 Jul 2023, 10:00 PM IST
Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang attends a joint news conference with his Dutch counterpart Wopke Hoekstra following their meeting in Beijing in May 2023.
Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang attends a joint news conference with his Dutch counterpart Wopke Hoekstra following their meeting in Beijing in May 2023.(AP)

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang has remained wholly out of the public eye for the past month, sparking intense debate about his whereabouts. His last public appearance was on June 25 for a meeting with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry in Beijing. While officials indicate that he missed the recent ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meeting due to health reasons people have remained skeptical.

While Chinese officials insist that diplomatic activities were being carried out as usual, Qin's absense has gained additional prominence amid a recent flurry of diplomatic activity. He was absent during high-profile visits by senior US officials Janet Yellen and John Kerry and even missed an annual foreign ministers’ ASEAN meeting in Indonesia last week.

“State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang is unable to attend this series of foreign ministers’ meetings due to health reasons,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a daily briefing last week.

Top diplomat Wang Yi - also a former foreign minister - represented China in Qin's stead at last week's meetings. The spokesperson's remark about his health was however left out of the official transcript of the briefing which was posted later on the ministry’s website.

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The brief explanation has so far failed to curb a groundswell of largely unsubstantiated speculation over his whereabouts. Some speculate that he has fallen foul of the leadership and there are even rumours of an affair with a well-known television presenter. So far however there has been no update from the Foreign Ministry. 

The 57-year-old career diplomat is a trusted aide of Chinese leader Xi Jinping who was promoted to the top post in December after a brief stint as US ambassador. As Foreign Minister Qin has delivered searing rebukes of Washington after relations plunged to a new low in the aftermath of a suspected Chinese spy balloon that was shot down over the US. He has also played a key role in subsequent efforts by both sides to stabilize rocky ties and restore communication, including meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his visit to Beijing in mid-June.

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First Published:17 Jul 2023, 10:00 PM IST
HomeNewsWorldWhere is Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang? Rumours swirl as lawmaker remains ‘missing’ for nearly a month

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