Where Is China’s ‘Missing’ Foreign Minister?

As per media reports, China's 57-year-old foreign minister Qin Gang has not been seen in public for 23 days as his last engagements were reported on 25 June.

China's Foreign Minister Qin Gang

Foreign Minister Qin Gang's prolonged absence from public view in China has triggered furious online speculations as it once again speaks for China's trait of maintaining secrecy.

As per media reports, the 57-year-old foreign minister has not been seen in public for 23 days as his last engagements were reported on 25 June.

Mr Qin was appointed as the foreign minister of China on last December.

He is seen as a trusted aide of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning failed to provide with any information when asked about the missing foreign minister's whereabouts. Her empty response also fuelled the already trending speculation.

Under China's largely opaque system, an abrupt disappearance of high-profile officials could be a sign of trouble.

The sudden disappearance of the foreign minister has also heightened curiosity amogst the common people as, in the past seven days, China's biggest search engine Baidu has seen a drastic surge in searches for Mr Qin's name.

As per a BBC report, the Baidu Index has witnessed an increase of search for "Qin Gang" by more than 5,000% in a week, which has surpassed the numericals recorded for some of the most famous Chinese celebrities.

Speculations and theories 

Amongst many, the most widely shared theories available online suggested that Mr Qin was being investigated over an alleged extramarital affair.

When asked about the rumour on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning declined to share any information.

"People are interested in the story because they are curious about any secrets in the black box," says Wu Qiang, a Beijing-based China politics commentator.

"His disappearance has highlighted the fragility of China's diplomacy system and high-level decision-making system."

Who is Qin Gang?

Qin Gang's relation with China's foreign ministry began since the time he was appointed as a foreign ministry spokesman,. He had helped organise President Xi Jinping's trips overseas.

Rise of Gang in the political landscape of China was nothing short of meteoric.

Gang is known to be one of the youngest appointees to the post of the foreign minister in the country's history.

Earlier, he was appointed for the  role of ambassador to the US.