China’s Embattled Former Foreign Minister Steps Down as Member of the Legislature

AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File
Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang speaks during the forum titled Chinese Modernization and the World held at The Grand Halls in Shanghai on April 21, 2023.

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — China’s former foreign minister, Qin Gang, who has been missing from public view since last June, has resigned from the national legislature, state media reported Tuesday.

Qin was dismissed as foreign minister in July, in one of China’s biggest political surprises in years.

The 57-year-old served for only seven months before he disappeared from public view last June. The government announced a month later that he had been dismissed from his post. He has yet to reappear publicly.

Qin was replaced as foreign minister by his predecessor, Wang Yi.

According to a notice by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, the Tianjin Municipal People’s Congress accepted Qin’s resignation as a delegate to the upcoming annual parliamentary session.

Official websites no longer list Qin as a member of the State Council, China’s Cabinet, but there has been no mention of whether he has been excluded from China’s ruling Communist Party.

His disappearance came during a series of dismissals at the top echelons of the party that included former Defense Minister Li Shangfu and other top military officials.

Signs of overt political friction are extremely rare in China, especially since President Xi Jinping tightened his control over the country’s politics, partly through an anti-corruption drive that purged scores of his presumed rivals.

Qin’s and Li’s ousters are believed to be part of a broader effort to reduce security vulnerabilities amid China’s increasing competition with the United States and its allies.

The National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp parliament, is to convene its annual session in early March and is expected to focus on the country’s ailing economy.

China’s economy expanded by 5.2% last year but is forecast to slow sharply this year, bogged down by a property crisis, high youth unemployment and massive local government debt.

The Wall Street Journal reported in September, citing people familiar with a briefing, that Qin was ousted over an extramarital affair he had during a previous posting as ambassador to the U.S. An investigation was focused on whether his conduct had compromised China’s national security, according to the Journal.