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On 11 July 2023, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin announced that Qin would not be attending the ASEAN foreign ministers meetings held in Jakarta, Indonesia, on 13 and 14 July due to health reasons. Instead, he was represented by his predecessor Wang Yi, who is serving as the director of the Office of the CCP's Central Foreign Affairs Commission, the top diplomatic post in China at the meetings. Qin has not been seen in public since 25 June 2023 – when he held talks with counterparts from Russia, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka[20] – and did not meet visiting dignitaries including United States Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in July.[21][22][23] His non-availability was one of the reasons for the cancellation of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union Josep Borrell's visit to China in July.[24]

Speculation around Qin's disappearance centered on an alleged affair with Hong Kong reporter Fu Xiaotian, who also seemed to disappear around the same time.[25][26]

On 25 July 2023, Qin was removed from the office of Minister of Foreign Affairs by a decree signed by president Xi Jinping, after a list of appointments and removals was passed by the 14th National People's Congress Standing Committee.[27][28] Qin's predecessor and the former foreign minister of China, Wang Yi, was re-appointed to the office.[29] China's foreign ministry and official media agencies, including Xinhua News Agency, refused to explain Qin's dismissal.[30][31][32] All mentions of Qin during his tenure as foreign minister were removed from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website,[33][34] though they were restored the following day.[35] With a tenure of 207 days, Qin is the shortest-serving foreign minister in the history of the People's Republic of China.[36] As of September 2023, Qin continued to serve as a State Councillor.[37]

According to a September 19, 2023 article by The Wall Street Journal, Qin had engaged in an extramarital relationship while serving as ambassador.[38] The Journal cited two unnamed sources who stated that the relationship resulted in the birth of a child while in the United States.[38] According to the Journal, Qin was cooperating with a Communist Party investigation focusing on whether the extramarital relationship or Qin's conduct had compromised Chinese national security.[38]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qin_Gang

Is there a historical precedent for an official in China being removed due to an extramarital affair? I couldn't find any similar case that happened like this in the past. Usually, they get removed over corruption charges, but this is the first time I hear an official get removed over an extramarital affair in China.

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  • Besides the affair, having a US-citizen child is an additional issue.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Sep 25, 2023 at 15:35
  • 1
    @JonCuster it might be an issue if the child is a US citizen, but the child might not be a US citizen.
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 8:08
  • 1
    @phoog - while the father was under diplomatic status it seems the mother was not. A bit of a corner case in birthright law perhaps but I suspect that means that the mother might not even need to affirmatively apply for the child to be a citizen by birth. A question for Law SE...
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 13:04
  • @JonCuster when I left my previous comment, it was unknown to me and not apparent from the question who the mother was and whether she might have had diplomatic immunity. I have since learned that she is a journalist, who wouldn't normally be immune, so it seems that the child wouldn't be immune and therefore is a US citizen. The parent of a child born in the US never needs to apply affirmatively for citizenship; if the child is a citizen, it's automatic (as it is with most children born outside the US).
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 19:10
  • @phoog - at kwvisalaw.com/citizenship/citizenship-acquired-at-birth I see: "Children born to foreign parents present under diplomatic status. These parents are expressly immune from the application of certain U.S. laws, so they must affirmatively elect for the child to become subject to the laws of the United States." But, I'm not a lawyer and have never even played one on TV...
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 19:16

2 Answers 2

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Question:

Is there a historical precedent for an official in China being removed due to an extramarital affair?

Short Answer:

What's that line from Casablanca? Captain Renault: I'm shocked! Shocked to find that gambling is going on in here. Croupier: Your winnings, sir.

Answer:

Yes, there is precedence but not exactly.

Yes 1000's of precedence for removing officials having affairs, maybe on the scale of a million since President Xi came to power in 2013.

A few public examples:

  • Fan Yue, 2013, a deputy director at the State Administration of Archives.
  • Liu Tienan a powerful energy official.
  • Former Railways Minister Liu Zhijun, jailed for corruption, reportedly kept 18 mistresses.

Not Exactly

President Xi who solidified his grip on power by eliminating his opposition through vast anti corruption campaigns, has used mistresses to expose, and prosecute many of these rivals.

Anti-corruption campaign under Xi Jinping

As of 2023, approximately 2.3 million government officials have been prosecuted.  The campaign is part of a much wider drive to clean up malfeasance within party ranks and shore up party unity. It has become an emblematic feature of Xi Jinping's political brand.

The campaign 'netted' over 120 high-ranking officials, including about a dozen high-ranking military officers, several senior executives of state-owned companies, and five national leaders.

The five national leaders don't include The Foreign Minister Qin Gang or the Defense Minister Li Shangfu who both disappeared from the public eye in the last two months.

China's scorned mistresses take revenge on 'corrupt lovers'

An unlikely whistle-blower for President Xi Jinping's much publicized crackdown on official corruption has emerged - the scorned mistress.

Mistresses have become the ultimate symbol of corruption in China. According to a government report in 2007, an astonishing 90% of top officials brought down by corruption scandals had kept a mistress - and in many cases they had more than one.

The Economist. December 13, 2014, "Banyan: Tiger in the net".

it is hard not to see corruption allegations as the latter-day weapon of choice in the winner-takes-all power struggles that the party has always suffered.

Chairman Mao’s reportedly had 100's of mistresses, according to one of his mistresses. It didn't hurt his career.

Mistresses are a status symbol for financially successful Chinese, including Government bureaucrats.

China's Other Women

I don't think it was the affair which got foreign minister Qin Gang in trouble. Maybe:

  • it was having an affair / baby in the west.
  • it was who he had the affair with, a reporter from Hong Kong which was still semi independent at the time.
  • it was because he made state security look bad, getting caught having a long term affair they didn't know about?
  • It's really just as likely the affair was a convenient excuse to remove him and had nothing to do with his actual offense.

In this time of financial uncertainty in China, just being the head of a powerful ministry is enough to get you in trouble. Powerful ministers like the Foreign and Defense Ministers could be seen as an alternative to President Xi remaining in power, if folks were thinking of making a change due to China's darkening economic circumstances. It's no coincidence that both were purged within the last two months.

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There was a law on "marriage" on rivals country, you will be considered a traitor. But in history, china do allow one husband multiple wife.

As for chinese communist party per say. They do have law on regulating extramarital. And yes some official have charged with it but not as big as official you mentioned. And the way they get charged is very un-official. Some time name wouldn't even be brought up and none of us know what's going on. These kind of cases would be so small it is not on the news paper. Maybe you will see some small article somewhere on the corner saying xxx is excluded due to moral mis-conduct.

Though I don't think it is officially claimed, it is mostly first speculated reason by chinese living outside of china. China only claim he is on leave for personal reason or some sort execuse.

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    And yes some official have charged with it : can you be more specific and name some examples, in possible with sources ?
    – Evargalo
    Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 8:34
  • They are charged but not in a official way. Lets put it that way so it is less miss leading. Commented Sep 27, 2023 at 10:43
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    any example ? any evidence of an official being removed because of an affair and not for political reasons or influence schemes ?
    – Evargalo
    Commented Sep 28, 2023 at 12:06

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