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Is Wang Yi’s re-appointment as foreign minister in place of Qin Gang a stopgap arrangement?

Wang Yi has replaced Qin Gang, who was not seen in public from June 25 as China's foreign minister

China has  replaced its foreign minister Qin Gang with veteran diplomat Wang Yi—a move that has surprised many.

While speculation was swirling about Qin’s fate, who had disappeared from public view since June 25, Wang’s appointment was not on expected lines.

In fact, Wang, a former foreign minister had been elevated to the rank director of the foreign affairs commission of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

It is likely that Wang’s appointment as foreign minister is a stop gap arrangement till the time a fresh appointment for the post can be made.

Qin’s absence became conspicuous when he missed out on the ASEAN Foreign Ministers meeting 2023 last week, and had been replaced by Wang.

So far there has not been any convincing response from the Chinese establishment explaining foreign Minister Qin’s public absence.

Rumours say that Qin has been punished because of his alleged affair with Phoenix TV personality Fu Xiaotian, with whom he apparently has a child. Fu has also not been heard off since April 10, after she posted from a Gulfstream Jet in Los Angeles, which was apparently flying to Beijing.

There is also a theory that Qin has had a health issue, which could be Covid, a heart attack or a stroke. But if that had been the case, his convalescing pictures should have appeared on official platforms.

Ahead of Wang’s appointment, speculation was rife about possible candidates for the foreign minister’s post.

The name of Liu Jianchao, now head of the communist party’s international liaison department was in circulation. A Central Committee member, Liu has loads of experience in the Chinese foreign ministry,

Two other names being speculated included Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu, though officially he is not in the same league as Qin. Unlike Qin, he is neither a full central committee member nor is he an alternate Central Committee member.
Another name making the rounds was Minister Qi Yu. Qi is the Party Secretary of the Foreign Ministry as well as a full central committee member.

The Central Committee is the core from where the more powerful 25-member Politburo is drawn. A seven-member standing committee of the Politburo comprises China’s top leadership.

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