China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang has not been seen in public for three weeks, an unusually long absence during a busy period of diplomatic activity in Beijing, sparking intense speculation in a country known for its political opaqueness.
Qin, 57, a career diplomat and trusted aide of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, was promoted to foreign minister in December, after a brief stint as ambassador to the United States.
As foreign minister, Qin has delivered searing rebukes of Washington after relations plunged to a new low in the aftermath of a suspected Chinese spy balloon that was shot down over the US.
He has also played a key role in subsequent efforts by both sides to stabilize rocky ties and restore communication, including meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his visit to Beijing in mid-June.
But the high-profile diplomat has not been seen in public since June 25, after he met with officials from Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Russia in Beijing.