The recently removed Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, who was replaced on Tuesday (25 July) through a simple announcement in the state media Xinhua evening TV news bulletin, is now disappearing from China's Foreign Ministry website, too.
Here is what we know so far of why China removed him after nearly a month-long disappearance and why his mention is being removed from the Chinese Foreign Ministry's website and social media accounts.
Earlier, Qin has disappeared from public view after a meeting on 25 June with Russia's deputy foreign minister, Andrey Rudenko, in Beijing.
At the time, the Chinese foreign ministry's official statement stated unspecified health issues as the reason for Qin's absence.
However, some rumours linked his absence to a likely extra-marital affair with a social media active news reporter, who also has gone dark since Qin disappearance.
Qin has been replaced by his predecessor, Wang Yi who was working as a senior foreign policy official in the communist party, a higher rank in the government hierarchy than Foreign Minister.
The state media did not provide a specific reason for Qin Gang's removal but mentioned that President Xi Jinping signed a presidential order to enact the decision.
Now, According to reports, mentions of Qin on certain portions of the foreign ministry website are also being removed. Multiple references to Qin's recent role as the foreign minister have disappeared from the foreign ministry's account on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform.
However, his previous roles, for example, as a state councilor in the Chinese government cabinet and a member of the Communist Party's elite Central Committee, has not been removed and is visible on their official accounts.
The WSJ compares Qin's disappearance with the vanishing of photos and official records of senior officers who fell out of favor during the Mao Zedong era.
"During the Mao Zedong era, the Communist Party was known to excise senior officials from photos and other official records, typically after they fell out of favor and were purged. Such high-level erasures have been much rarer in the decades since and may never have been carried out so conspicuously," the report says.
Qin is rumored to be very close to Chinese President Xi Jinping, and his rapid rise to the post of Foreign Minister is believed to be due to Xi's blessings.
The US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken about the removal of Qin said, "he wished Qin well and promised to work with Wang, whom Blinken has met on several occasions".
The current status of Qin, whether he has been detained or subjected to punitive actions, remains unknown. As indicated by the opaque nature of Beijing's corridors of power, it is likely that any future information regarding his situation will remain elusive.
Editorial Associate at Swarajya. Writes on Indian Military and Defence.
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