September 23, 2023

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view | China Qin Gang exposes Xi’s secret

In most countries, it is not reasonable for a senior government official to disappear for 26 days without any explanation. But that is exactly what happened in China, where the disappearance of Foreign Minister Chen Gang highlights how secretive Xi Jinping’s regime has become. This is a problem not only for China itself but also for everyone who deals with the government in Beijing.

Chen, a close confidant of Xi who rose rapidly in diplomatic ranks, was not seen in public Since June 25th. After he missed several high-level diplomatic meetings, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a press conference on July 11 that Chen was suffering from “physical condition”. This explanation Missing from the Ministry text From the press conference. respond to reports A Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on July 17 that Chen was caught having an extramarital affair with a Chinese reporter while he was ambassador to Washington, “I have no information to provide.”

On Wednesday, China’s new ambassador to Washington, Xie Feng, told the Aspen Security Forum he could not say whether Chen would see Henry Kissinger, who was in Beijing meeting with him. “old friend” Xi and many other top CPC officials. Pressing the whereabouts of Qin, Xie The respondents were referred again The Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond.

Within the US government there is much speculation and intrigue on this issue but little hard information. US officials initially thought Chen had contracted the virus, but he has now been gone for longer than any bout of the illness usually lasts. Several U.S. officials have told me that they believe allegations of Chen’s relationship are credible but unconfirmed. In either case, several said, he likely fell victim to infighting within China’s high command clique, which is notoriously fratricidal.

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“She has a huge number of enemies within the government,” one senior US official told me. “He was a marginally talented person who, only through his closeness to Shi, took off.”

Many of Chen’s rivals had good reason to be jealous of his meteoric rise. After Chen’s wife served homemade mooncakes to Shi’s wife, the story goes, Chen won entry into Shi’s inner social circle. He was promoted from ambassador to foreign minister and appointed as a member of the Politburo last year, and this year he was also appointed as a state advisor. This made him one of the most powerful people in China. Chen’s predecessor as State Councilor Wang Yi, now director of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, is seen as Chen’s biggest rival. He met With Kissinger this week.

The question is who published this information, is it accurate or not, and who benefits? “Wang Yi is at the top of that list,” another US official told me.

Officially, Beijing has not provided any explanation to the Biden administration for Chen’s absence. And the Biden team is not pushing for it because they don’t think the CCP will tell them the truth anyway. After all, Beijing has never explained why Xi himself disappeared from public view for extended periods during the pandemic.

Normally, in cases where top Chinese officials are accused of sexual impropriety, the party will roll the wagons and go after the woman. When Chinese tennis champion Peng Shuai’s affair with a senior official was revealed, she was the one He disappeared and was severely punished. But last month, he was one of the top Chinese executives Forced to resign In the face of public outrage after he was videotaped with his mistress.

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Chen’s prolonged absence may indicate that he is being set up to take the fall this time around. He might eventually be farmed with corruption charges, which would allow Xi to get rid of Chen without creating the precedent that the CCP would now begin to punish those responsible for extramarital affairs. Or he may reappear and pretend nothing happened. There is no way to find out. But now the world will see what Xi does when one of his chosen allies gets into trouble.

Chen’s case also reflects a larger problem: Xi’s government is not only secretive about officials and their scandals. Beijing is also falling back on basic transparency across the board – and this has huge implications for the US government, international companies, and anyone else who needs information from inside China.

Chinese government now Version restriction One of the basic economic and financial data that companies and governments depend on. British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly recently warned of a ‘Tragic miscalculation’ Unless Beijing lifts the veil of secrecy about its military and nuclear expansion. The Chinese government initially concealed the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus and continues to withhold important information related to the coronavirus from the world. China persecution of journalists And academics telling uncredited facts has risen dramatically.

Even worse, China is exporting this model of secrecy and lack of accountability. The Chinese government, in its dealings with international organizations and countries with influence, is trying to coax others into accepting excessive secrecy as the new normal in governance.

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“Countries that made deals with Beijing are discovering that they are expected to follow China’s lead, curtailing transparency and accountability just as Chinese leaders do at home,” NED Vice President for Studies and Analysis Christopher Walker Books on Foreign Affairs. “The result of this mode of engagement is the gradual erosion of global standards of transparency and open government – and the emergence of new standards of opacity and opacity.”

In the end, Qin Gang’s fate is inconsequential; Xi can always level up another of his men. But the implication is that Xi does not seem to have to explain to the world what is happening. The CCP’s increasing secrecy adds more risks to dealing with China at every level.