On Wednesday, July 25, the Chinese foreign ministry stated that the country’s foreign policy is “advancing steadily” following the unexpected removal of foreign minister Qin Gang. The Chinese authorities have chosen not to disclose the specific reasons for his dismissal from the position. Qin Gang’s absence from the public eye for more than a month had sparked speculation and curiosity globally.
On Tuesday, Qin Gang was removed from his post by Beijing’s top lawmaking body. He was in the job only for 207 days. His prolonged absence in the public had people speculating that China’s former ambassador to the US and confidant of President Xi Jinping had fallen out of favour.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Mao Ning was asked by journalists about his removal. Mao referred journalists to an article by state news agency and refused to give any further information.
“Xinhua has already published information. You can refer to that,” Mao said.
Asked how she evaluated Qin’s brief stint as foreign minister, Mao said she was “probably not the right person to answer that question”.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to pass judgment,” she said, insisting that China was “releasing normal information” concerning Qin’s position.
She was pressed repeatedly by journalists on more details on Qin Gang. She said that decisions made Tuesday by China’s top lawmaking body and the president were “very clear”.
“I suggest you all refer to that. I don’t have any additional information,” she said.
“China’s diplomatic activities are all advancing steadily,” Mao added.
Details on Qin Gang removed from website
By Wednesday, references to 57-year-old Qin were removed from the website of the foreign ministry.
AFP reported that a search for his name didn’t yield any results. Also, pages with previous articles about his diplomatic appearances showed a message that the page “does not exist or has been deleted”.
But his name reportedly did appear on other Chinese government websites, including the State Council, the Ministry of Commerce and state media outlets.
Asked about his disappearance from the foreign ministry website, Mao said: “Information on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is updated according to relevant management regulations.”
Top diplomat Wang Yi has been replaced Qin Gang as foreign minister.
For weeks, China’s foreign ministry had dodged questions on Qin. Previously it said that “health reasons” were to blame for Qin Gang’s absence from public gaze.
State media gave no reason on Tuesday for his dismissal but one expert said Qin’s “digital erasure” suggested he had fallen from grace.
“If he were a comrade in good standing who had fallen ill I am not sure that would be happening,” China analyst Bill Bishop wrote in his Sinocism newsletter.