China’s Foreign Minister, Qin Gang, has been absent from public view for over three weeks, joining a long list of individuals who have mysteriously disappeared in China’s political system. The disappearances of high-ranking officials, celebrities, and businesspeople have become a common occurrence, often shrouded in secrecy and later revealed to be linked to investigations or controversies.
Some notable cases include the former head of Interpol, Meng Hongwei, who vanished while traveling in China in 2018. It was later disclosed that he had been detained and sentenced to 13 and a half years in jail for accepting bribes. Investment banker Bao Fan, known for his work with rising tech companies, also went missing earlier this year. His company, China Renaissance, initially reported being unable to contact him, but later acknowledged that he was cooperating with an investigation.
Billionaire Jack Ma disappeared for 3 months, then suddenly reappeared. Nothing was said about his disappearance, but he seemed humbled and contrite upon his return.
The case of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai also gained international attention when she disappeared from public view in 2021 after accusing a former Chinese vice-premier of sexual misconduct. Her social media post detailing the allegations was swiftly erased by censors, raising concerns about censorship and control over public discourse.
The absence of Qin Gang, a member of the Communist Party’s central committee, has intensified speculation about the motives behind his disappearance. Qin’s perceived close ties to Chinese leader Xi Jinping raise questions about potential power struggles or disagreements within the ruling party. His absence during a critical period of diplomatic activities, including meetings with foreign officials, further adds to the mystery surrounding his whereabouts.
The Chinese government, known for its political opaqueness, has provided limited information about Qin’s absence, citing “health reasons.” However, this explanation has not been fully satisfying, considering the lack of transparency in China’s political system and the history of disappearances that are later linked to official investigations.
The uncertainty surrounding Qin’s disappearance highlights the inherent instability in totalitarian regimes, where decisions are made solely by the supreme leader. This opacity and concentration of power have become more pronounced under Xi Jinping’s leadership, as he tightens control and cracks down on dissent.
As Qin Gang’s absence continues, rumors and discussions about his private life have emerged on social media platforms, which is uncommon given the strict control over such discussions in China. The public’s curiosity reflects a desire for transparency and a better understanding of the inner workings of the country’s political system.
Qin Gang’s disappearance is just one example of a pattern in China’s political landscape, where influential figures can suddenly vanish, leaving behind speculation and uncertainty. This phenomenon underscores the terror of a totalitarian society where simple free speech can spur kidnapping, detention, confiscation of everything and perhaps even torture. Careful what you say…