The Chinese government has removed Qin Gang from the post of foreign minister and replaced him with his predecessor, Wang Yi, according to Chinese state media.
“China’s top legislature voted to appoint Wang Yi as foreign minister as it convened a session on Tuesday,” state media reported. “Qin Gang was removed from the post of foreign minister.”
The announcement came a month after Qin’s last public appearance.
The 57-year-old, who was made foreign minister in December, has not since been seen in public June 25, when he held talks with counterparts from Russia, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.
Qin’s final appearance in state media was a meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko, who visited Beijing less than 48 hours after the Wagner mercenary group’s abortive rebellion against Moscow’s top military brass.
China then cancelled talks between Qin and European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on July 4 without explanation.
Qin subsequently missed high-level meetings with United States Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and US climate envoy John Kerry.
China’s foreign ministry later said Qin could not attend an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Jakarta for “health reasons”.
The Tianjin native has served in the Chinese government since the late 1980s, mostly in roles related to foreign affairs.
Qin was regarded as a close confidant of Chinese President Xi Jinping and viewed as a rising star within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).