China’s outspoken former foreign minister, Qin Gang, was dismissed from his role in July after holding it for only seven months. He reportedly had an extramarital affair and fathered a child during his tenure as the chief representative in Washington. This news was brought to light by The Wall Street Journal.
The sudden removal of Qin, previously a close aide to leader Xi Jinping, followed rumors surrounding his personal life and political disputes. The Wall Street Journal highlighted that an ongoing Communist Party (CCP) internal investigation had discovered Qin’s affair, which resulted in a child’s birth in the U.S. The inquiry aims to determine if Qin’s actions, or any other behavior, might have jeopardized China’s national security. As of now, Qin is reportedly cooperating with the investigation.
The identities of the woman and the child remain confidential, and The Wall Street Journal hasn’t verified them independently. Despite the controversy, Qin’s name remains among the five state councilors of The State Council, China’s cabinet.
This event has emerged during a period of escalating rivalry between China and the U.S. and its allies. Beijing is actively working to address potential security threats. Yun Sun, the director of the China program at the Stimson Center, suggested to the Journal that such disturbances at top government and military levels hint at potential political volatility in China, especially during its current economic slowdown.
The situation raises doubts about Xi’s grip over the current state of affairs. The Wall Street Journal indicated that higher-ranking party officials are under increased scrutiny, particularly those in foreign relations and military leadership roles.
Furthermore, reports from Reuters mentioned the recent disappearance of China’s defense minister, Li Shangfu, adding to the list of disruptions among China’s elites. This report has further fueled speculation about Xi’s leadership amidst the nation’s prioritization of internal security over global engagement. Earlier this month, authorities had taken Li, primarily in charge of military-foreign relations, into custody for interrogation, according to the Journal.
The Journal also noted that the commander and the political commissar of the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force, which supervises China’s nuclear weapons, were let go in July without a public explanation. Interestingly, the appointment of all these top officials had previously received Xi’s endorsement.