The prolonged absence of 57-year-old China’s Foreign Minister, Qin Gang, for 23 days (his last reported engagements were on 25 June) from the public eye has triggered intense speculation online, shedding light once again on China’s culture of secrecy.
Mr. Qin’s disappearance has garnered attention not only from diplomats and China watchers but also from ordinary Chinese citizens. When questioned about his whereabouts, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Mao Ning, provided no concrete information, fueling further suspicion and wild speculation.
China’s opaque political system often obscures the reasons behind high-profile officials’ sudden disappearances, with such occurrences sometimes indicating potential trouble or the initiation of a criminal investigation. In the past, even President Xi Jinping himself had vanished before ascending to power in 2012, leading to rumors about his health and possible internal power struggles.
Mr. Qin’s absence for such an extended period is noteworthy, and there have been several unexplained incidents surrounding his absence. The foreign ministry stated that he would miss a diplomatic event in Indonesia due to health reasons, but this information was omitted from the official transcript on their website. Furthermore, talks with the European Union’s foreign policy chief were postponed without any clear explanation.
Numerous theories have emerged online, including speculations about an alleged extramarital affair, but official statements have done little to dispel the rumors. The sudden surge in online searches for Mr. Qin’s name on China’s biggest search engine, Baidu, reflects the public’s intense interest in the situation.
Mr. Qin’s rise to the position of foreign minister was remarkable, and he is one of the youngest appointees to hold this post in China’s history. Despite his previous reputation as a tough-talking diplomat, he is seen as having distanced himself from the aggressive “wolf warrior” style of diplomacy adopted by China in recent times.
Given the opacity of China’s political system, it remains uncertain whether Mr. Qin’s absence signifies trouble for him or if he will reappear in the public eye soon. The openness of discussions surrounding such a senior official without complete censorship is an unusual occurrence in China, making people wonder about potential power struggles, corruption, abuse of power, and even romantic relationships.
** Taking the lead from BBC