As a Major Power, China Ought to Give Explanations Why it Happened

China continues to refuse to explain why its foreign minister was removed from the post following a month of his disappearance from duties. China’s secretive nature, as a major power with responsibilities to the international community, is beyond comprehension.

Qin Gang, then Chinese state councilor and foreign minister, was dismissed from his post on July 25 and replaced by previous Foreign Minister Wang Yi, a member of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party who is also the top official in charge of foreign affairs.

At the end of last year, Qin was promoted to the post of foreign minister from ambassador to the United States at the young age of 56. However, he had not been seen in public after June 25.

Beijing is facing a heap of diplomatic issues, including rebuilding relations with Washington and dealing with the situation in Ukraine. A Chinese foreign minister normally serves for an extended period of time, thus it is extremely unusual for the person in the post to be replaced after only seven months in office.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on July 11 said that Qin would not attend an international meeting in Indonesia for health reasons, but since then it has avoided giving any explanations, saying that it is unaware of the situation.

This can hardly be described as a responsible attitude by the world’s second-largest economy.

In addition to health scares, there have been rumors as to the circumstances surrounding the dismissal, such as a scandal involving a woman, a power struggle and allegations related to national security, but the truth remains unclear.

The foreign minister is the face of a country and is responsible for maintaining and building relations with other nations. There may be many countries that are becoming increasingly concerned about how the Chinese government dealt with the matter as it did not even give a reason for his dismissal.

Decision-making for China’s diplomacy is in the hands of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the party’s Central Committee, which is headed by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Whoever the foreign minister is, they certainly maintain a hard-line diplomatic stance.

Beijing will likely continue to engage in “wolf warrior diplomacy” to coerce those it deems hostile, and also in a propaganda battle aimed at discrediting Japan with scientifically baseless claims over treated water from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Japan should take a firm stand against China’s wrongful narrative.

The Chinese government has been actively encouraging foreign companies to invest in the country in an attempt to restore the stagnant economy after the end of its zero-COVID policy.

However, one factor that is making companies hesitant to invest in China is the low level of transparency in the country’s policies.

A symbolic example could be the case in which the authorities in China detained a Japanese employee of Astellas Pharma Inc. on suspicion of violating the country’s counterespionage law, but did not disclose the reason for the detention. Under such circumstances, many companies must feel that they cannot do business in China with peace of mind.

The Xi administration needs to be keenly aware that Beijing’s opaque politics can be detrimental to China’s own interests.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 7, 2023)