China silent on sacked minister's whereabout

China silent on sacked minister’s whereabout

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China silent on sacked minister's whereabout

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China silent on sacked minister’s whereabout. On Wednesday, China’s foreign ministry declined to comment on the abrupt dismissal of senior diplomat Qin Gang, while removing references to him from a government website.

Qin, who has not been seen in public for more than a month, was removed from office by Beijing’s top lawmaking body on Tuesday after just 207 days in the job.

This came after weeks of speculation that the former Chinese ambassador to the US and former confidant of President Xi Jinping had fallen out of favor.

Asked about his removal at a regular briefing, spokeswoman Mao Ning referred journalists to a Xinhua article and declined to offer any further information.

“Xinhua has already published information. You can refer to that,” Mao said.

Pressed repeatedly by journalists to provide more details on Qin’s fate, Mao said 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.

By Wednesday morning, all references to the 57-year-old had been erased from China’s foreign ministry’s website.

A search for his name produced no results, and prior articles about his diplomatic appearances displayed a message indicating that the page “does not exist or has been deleted.”

His name did, however, appear on other Chinese government websites, including those of the State Council, the Ministry of Commerce, and state media outlets.

When asked about his absence from the foreign ministry website, Mao stated, “Information on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website is updated according to relevant management regulations.”

Despite repeated questions, the foreign ministry has declined to provide any information on Qin for weeks, citing “health reasons” for his absence.

The cause for his departure was not given by state media, but one analyst said Qin’s “digital erasure” implied he had fallen from favour.

“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.

“Evidence is emerging that this is indeed a political purge,” said Neil Thomas, a fellow on Chinese politics at the Asia Society Policy Institute, a US think tank, on Twitter, which has been rebranded as “X.”

– ‘Totally in the dark’

For weeks, China had been tight-lipped about Qin’s whereabouts. He hasn’t been seen in public since June 25, when he visited Russia’s deputy foreign minister Andrey Rudenko in Beijing.

But that didn’t stop an internet flurry of rumors, some of which suggested the envoy was in trouble because of an alleged affair with a popular television anchor.

“People on the outside are completely in the dark, and the episode demonstrates that Chinese politics is becoming increasingly unpredictable and volatile, despite the calm surface,” Ho-fung Hung, a Johns Hopkins University expert in Chinese politics, told AFP.

Qin, who is originally from the northern city of Tianjin, used to work with Xi as the head of the foreign ministry’s etiquette department.

Qin’s promotion over more experienced candidates, first to US ambassador and subsequently to China’s number two diplomat, was credited to Xi’s direct trust.

And the sudden fall of the so-called “Wolf Warrior” diplomat shows that no official is immune to the vicissitudes of Chinese politics — no matter how close they are to the leader, one expert said.

“I believe the main implication would be for Chinese officials, with the message being that no one is safe, no matter how high they may have risen or how strongly Xi Jinping has supported them,” China law specialist Neysun Mahboubi told AFP.

Qin has been replaced as foreign minister by top diplomat Wang Yi.

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