Five weeks ago, the world watched as China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Beijing for high stakes talks between the two powers.
But anyone looking for reference to that important event on the website of China’s Foreign Ministry will be disappointed, as that meeting – and all of Qin’s activities as foreign minister – has been erased from the record following a head-spinning leadership shake-up Tuesday that saw Qin abruptly replaced by his predecessor Wang Yi.
The shock ouster, approved by a top body within China’s rubber-stamp legislature, had followed weeks of questions and speculation about Qin’s fate after he disappeared from public view in late June, without a clear explanation.
The latest twist in the saga – the complete erasure of Qin’s swift, six-month tenure as foreign minister and his replacement by Wang, who held that post for roughly a decade before a promotion late last year – only serves to deepen the mystery.
Qin’s whereabouts, the reason for his removal, and his ultimate fate as a member of China’s Communist Party all remain unknown.
Unanswered questions about official decision-making are standard in China, where the political system is notoriously opaque and has only become more so under Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Senior Chinese offic