China’s foreign minister Qin Gang has been suddenly replaced by his predecessor Wang Yi in a surprise shake-up to China’s foreign policy leadership.
The move was voted on by the top decision-making body of China’s rubber-stamp parliament on Tuesday, according to state media. It comes as Qin had been missing from the public eye for a month without explanation.
Qin, 57, had not been seen in public since June 25, after he met with officials from Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Russia in Beijing, sparking significant speculation about his fate within China’s notoriously opaque political system.
A career diplomat and trusted aide of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Qin had been in his role as foreign minister since December after a brief stint as ambassador to the United States.
He had played a key role in efforts by the US and China to stabilize rocky ties and restore communication, including meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during the American diplomat’s visit to Beijing in mid-June.
The replacement of a foreign minister by his predecessor is an unusual move.
Wang, who served as foreign minister from 2013-2022, now serves as director of the foreign affairs arm for the ruling Communist Party, a position which makes him China’s top diplomat.
This is a breaking story. More to follow.