In recent weeks, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang has seemingly vanished from public life, stoking rumors about his whereabouts and the potential implications for China's foreign policy.
The Chinese government has remained tight-lipped about his absence since June 25, leading to a surge in speculation regarding his well-being and political standing.
While the Chinese Foreign Ministry attributed Qin's absence from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit to unspecified "physical reasons," his lack of public statements and activities has only fueled the rumor mill.
Speculation as to the cause of the absence ranges from severe COVID-19 infection to a scandalous affair with Fu Xiaotian, a high-profile Chinese journalist.
This enigma deepened when the Chinese Foreign Ministry chose not to respond to direct queries about the rumored affair during a press briefing, sparking further interest in the story. Even though footage of the briefing shows the spokeswoman dodging the question, the official transcript conveniently leaves out this portion.
Qin, a critical diplomatic figure in China's political scene, ascended to Foreign Ministry leadership last December. He had previously held the position of ambassador to America and was known for his public denial of the Chinese government's ongoing genocide of the Uyghur people.
His notable absence in meetings with American counterparts, regional summits, and EU foreign policy chief's visit to China suggest there might be more to his disappearance than just health issues.
Some believe that Qin might be facing political backlash or has lost favor with China's paramount leader, Xi Jinping. However, these theories, much like the rest, are unsubstantiated. Whether Qin has been sidelined due to political fallout or is suffering from health complications, his disappearance demonstrates the opaque nature of the Chinese Communist Party and its mechanisms.
Meanwhile, citizens and observers are left in the dark, having to piece together snippets of information. "We're all just reading tea leaves here because nobody really knows the truth," comments one online observer, a sentiment that accurately captures the situation's uncertainty.
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