Ousted Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang (R) hosted his American counterpart, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in Beijing as recently June 18, prior to disappearing from sight earlier this month and eventually being replaced. File Photo via MFA China/UPI | License Photo
July 25 (UPI) -- China dismissed Foreign Minister Qin Gang just seven months after being appointed to the post, state media reported Tuesday.
The standing committee of the country's rubber-stamp National People's Congress legislature approved the removal of Qin -- the former ambassador to the United States who has not been seen in public for a month -- at a special session Tuesday but no reason was given for his dismissal.
The country's top foreign policy adviser Wang Yi, will take his place, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
Qin, a once-rising star in President Xi Jinping's inner circle, was promoted to foreign minister in December after serving as China's ambassador to the United States for 17 months. In March, he was promoted to state councilor.
Questions regarding Qin, whose whereabouts have been a mystery since his last sighting in Beijing on June 25, escalated earlier this month when China was represented at a Jakarta meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations gathering of foreign ministers by Wang, instead of Qin.
Ahead of the gathering, China's Foreign Ministry said Qin could not attend due to health concerns but has steadfastly dodged all queries regarding Qin ever since.
His public absence has been the sole topic of conversation among China's political classes, according to the South China Morning Post newspaper, spiraling into one of the worst crises for Xi since he handed himself an unprecedented third term as president last year.
Prior to his official re-appointment, Wang, who served as Xi's foreign minister from 2013 to 2022, met last week with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Climate Envoy John Kerry and is currently attending a BRICS summit being hosted by South Africa.
During his time as ambassador, Qin developed good working relations with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, helping navigate strains over issues from Taiwan to limits on Chinese microchip imports to the extent Qin made a farewell call to Blinken prior to being re-called to Beijing in which they agreed to work together to improve ties.
"Called Secretary Blinken to say goodbye. I appreciate several candid, in-depth and constructive meetings with him during my tenure. I look forward to continuing close working relations with him for a better China-U.S. relationship," he wrote in a new year's day Twitter post.
Blinken responded by confirming a friendly phone conversation in which they discussed "maintaining open lines of communication" in Qin's new post as foreign minister.