China Yanked Foreign Minister Over Affair in US: Report

And Defense Minister Li Shangfu investigated for corruption after Qin Gang booted over affair
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2023 7:29 AM CDT
Chinese Minister Lost Job Over Affair in US: Report
Then newly elected Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang takes his oath during a session of China's National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 12, 2023.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

In a blow to Chinese President Xi Jinping's leadership, the country's former foreign minister, an ally of Xi's who vanished from the public eye in June, was ousted for "lifestyle issues"—the Chinese Communist Party's term for sexual misconduct, the Wall Street Journal reports. Qin Gang served as China's ambassador to the US from July 2021 until January, when he was hand-picked by Xi to replace foreign minister Wang Yi, who was promoted to director of foreign affairs. It was "an unusually fast promotion" for 57-year-old Qin, per the Journal. In July, however, it was revealed that Yi had resumed the post of foreign minister. The Foreign Ministry initially blamed Qin's absence on "health reasons."

In truth, an investigation found he had engaged in an extramarital affair throughout his tenure as ambassador—one that led to the birth of a child in the US, the Journal reports, noting the child "could potentially compromise his ability to represent China's interests in dealing with the Americans." Senior Chinese officials briefed on the investigation last month were told Qin was dismissed due to "lifestyle issues," meaning sexual misconduct, which is "often used as a way to discredit fallen officials considered to be disloyal," per the Journal. Qin, who is still listed as one of five state councilors, is reportedly complying with an ongoing investigation exploring whether his actions jeopardized China's national security. Meanwhile, another Chinese minister has been taken away for questioning, per the Journal.

Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu, appointed in March and last seen in public three weeks ago, is under investigation for what the Guardian describes as "the corrupt procurement of military equipment" during his time running the equipment division of the military's ruling body between September 2017 and October 2022. The equipment division said in July that it was investigating corruption "relating to the bidding process, and the formation of private cliques, dating back to 2017," per the Guardian. As with Qin, officials initially cited health reasons for Li's disappearance, per CNN. US ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel noted last week that "President Xi's cabinet lineup is now resembling Agatha Christie's novel And Then There Were None." (More China stories.)

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