Still “No News” from Chinese Foreign Minister

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverley has been forced to postpone his trip to China after the mysterious disappearance of his Chinese counterpart, Qin Gang, who has not been seen in public for nearly a month. According to Bloomberg news agency, Cleverly was supposed to visit Beijing at the end of July.

The Chinese head of diplomatic mission was last seen in public on June 25, when he met in Beijing with delegations from Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Russia. Then the mystery started. China’s foreign minister was scheduled to meet with the European Union’s foreign minister Josep Borrell on July 5, but the meeting was canceled at the last minute, after China informed Brussels that the agreed dates were “no longer possible.” Later, Qin Gang missed the annual foreign ministers meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that took place last week in Jakarta, Indonesia. China was represented by Wang Yi, the all-powerful Foreign Minister of the Communist Party of China.

The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman told reporters at a regular weekly briefing on Tuesday that Qin Gang was unable to attend the ASEAN meeting “for health reasons,” as reported by Reuters  news agency. An hour later, this statement disappeared from the “official” transcript of the meeting with the Chinese and international press. Of course, there is no shortage of hypotheses regarding the mysterious disappearance of the head of Chinese diplomacy, and they range from Covid to a possible extramarital affair between Qin Gan and a prominent Chinese TV journalist – this alone would cost the minister his place in Beijing’s top hierarchy.