There has been significant speculation and discussion in Western media regarding the removal of China’s foreign minister, Qin Gang. Some commentators have described this situation as a “purge” and have presented it in a negative light. However, it is important to analyze this situation within the cultural and political context of China.
The Western media often sensationalize “disappearances” in China as a means to criticize communism and depict the country as a brutal state that can remove individuals without question. However, China has a culturally sensitive understanding of maintaining public face, which is rooted in the cultural legacy of Confucianism. Chinese society places a high value on public esteem and avoiding any actions that may bring shame to oneself or their family. This cultural sensitivity impacts how public figures, like Qin Gang, handle situations that may damage their reputation.
It is possible that Qin Gang’s removal from his post as foreign minister is a result of a factional struggle within China’s foreign ministry. There may be disagreements between hardliners, known as “wolf warriors,” and doves who prefer a softer approach to diplomacy. Qin Gang is seen as part of the tough camp, as evidenced by his previous role as China’s ambassador to the US. In contrast, the actual role of China’s foreign minister is more of a figurehead or delegate position with limited policymaking power. The real decision-making power in China’s diplomatic affairs lies with the politburo.
Wang Yi, the previous foreign minister and current Director of the Foreign Affairs Commission, holds significant power in China’s diplomatic decision-making process under President Xi Jinping. Wang is known for his moderate and soft-spoken approach to diplomacy, which has been successful in the past. His reappointment as foreign minister signifies a shift towards a more dovish phase in China’s diplomacy.
China’s current strategy is to engage positively with the United States and its allies, seeking stability and preventing the escalation of political tensions. The country aims to avoid multilateral coalitions being built against it and the development of a Cold War-like strategic environment. In this context, individuals like Qin Gang, who align more with a hawkish approach, are often removed from prominent positions but not necessarily “purged.”
It is essential to understand that power struggles and factional dynamics are present in every state, and China is no exception. The assignment of individuals to different positions and roles provides insight into the direction of policymaking. The removal of Qin Gang should be analyzed within the broader context of China’s diplomatic goals and objectives.
In conclusion, the removal of Qin Gang as China’s foreign minister should not be seen as a purge but rather as a natural evolution of Beijing’s diplomatic goals. Western media’s alarmist speculation and focus on purges and disappearances overlook the complex dynamics of power struggles and cultural sensitivities in China. Understanding China’s diplomatic objectives and the shift towards a more dovish approach provides a more nuanced perspective on this situation.