(Singapore Sep 19, 2023) Senior Chinese officials were told that an internal Communist Party investigation found former Foreign Minister Qin Gang to have engaged in an extramarital affair that lasted throughout his tenure as Beijing’s top envoy to Washington, according to people familiar with the matter as quoted by Wall Street Journal.
In July, Qin, 57, once considered a trusted aide to Chinese President Xi Jinping, was stripped of his foreign minister title without explanation after he disappeared from public view a month earlier. At one point leading up to his ouster, the Foreign Ministry said his absence was for health reasons.
Senior Chinese officials—including ministers and provincial leaders—were briefed last month on the party’s investigation into Qin, who served as the Chinese ambassador to the U.S. from July 2021 until January this year, the people said. The senior officials were told the formal reason for Qin’s dismissal was “lifestyle issues,” a common party euphemism for sexual misconduct, according to the people, the WSJ report said.
The names of the woman and the child weren’t disclosed to the party officials when they were informed about Qin’s investigation, the source said.
The investigation is still ongoing with Qin’s cooperation. It is now focusing on whether the affair or other conduct by Qin might have compromised China’s national security, the source said.
However, The State Council, China’s cabinet, still lists Qin as one of the five state councilors. China’s Foreign Ministry and the State Council Information Office didn’t respond to questions.
The downfall of Qin, who was in the foreign minister post for just seven months, comes as China’s leadership seeks to cut off any security vulnerabilities amid the country’s intensifying competition with the U.S. and its allies.
Earlier this month, Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu, who is mainly responsible for military relations with other countries, was taken away by authorities for questioning, The Wall Street Journal reported. In July, the commander and political commissar of the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force, which controls the country’s strategic missiles, were both dismissed with no reason given publicly.
Political analysts say the high-profile troubles involving senior diplomatic and military officials are causing a blow to the leader’s efforts to uphold the Chinese-style governance as a more stable and effective alternative to the Western model.
China’s economy, meanwhile, is suffering a crisis of confidence not seen since the country’s opening to the world in the late 1970s.