China's outspoken foreign minister removed from office

11 months ago 14

China's outspoken foreign minister - who has not been seen publicly for a month - has been removed from office and replaced by his predecessor.

Chinese state media gave no reason for Qin Gang's removal but it comes after speculation over his personal affairs and political rivalries.

The foreign ministry has provided no information about Mr Qin's status, in keeping with the ruling Communist Party's standard approach to personnel matters.

He has been replaced by Wang Yi amid a foreign backlash against China's increasingly aggressive foreign policy.

Mr Qin was a chief proponent of the policy.

He was last seen in public on 25 June in Beijing after meeting with officials from Sri Lanka, Russia and Vietnam. Questions about his whereabouts began to intensify this month when he did not attend the annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations gathering of foreign ministers in Indonesia.

The Chinese foreign ministry had said Mr Qin would miss the event because of an unspecified health issue.

The ministry has since then avoided answering repeated questions about his status, saying only that China's diplomacy is progressing steadily.

The appointment of Mr Wang was approved at a meeting of the standing committee of China's rubber-stamp legislature, the National People's Congress, which usually gathers at the end of the month.

Mr Wang previously served as China's top diplomat in his capacity as head of the party's office of foreign affairs.

The shake-up in China's diplomacy follows Washington sending US secretary of state Antony Blinken and other top serving and retired officials to Beijing in a bid to revive a relationship that is deeply riven over trade, human rights, technology, Taiwan and China's other territorial claims.

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