Investigative Group

China’s Censors Scrub Purged Foreign Minister From Internet Records


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Philip Lenczycki Investigative Reporter
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Chinese government censors scrubbed internet references to the minister of foreign affairs who was recently fired following a month-long disappearance, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation review of the ministry’s website.

Reports that include mention of Qin Gang — who served as China’s ambassador to the U.S. between 2021 and 2023 — have been removed from the website of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the DCNF found. On Tuesday, China’s National People’s Congress replaced Qin Gang as China’s minister of foreign affairs with his predecessor, Wang Yi, Chinese state-run media outlet CCTV News reported. (RELATED: China Quietly Fires Foreign Minister As Month-Long Disappearance Continues)

The DCNF found over a dozen examples of articles about Qin Gang on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website that have been scrubbed.

For example, a Chinese-language article titled “Qin Gang Met With Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Rudenko” that was posted on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website on the last day before Qin’s disappearance, June 25, 2023, has been removed, the DCNF found. The web address now returns an error page with a Chinese-language message stating: “Your requested page doesn’t exist or was deleted.”

After approximately ten seconds the error page then automatically redirects to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ homepage, according to a DCNF analysis.



Similarly, a Chinese-language article from June 18, 2023, posted on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website titled “Qin Gang Holds Talks With U.S. Secretary of State Blinken,” also returned the same error page, the DCNF found. An identical error page was also discovered for the ministry’s May 30, 2023 article titled “Qin Gang Met With Tesla CEO Elon Musk.”

On July 11, Chinese government spokesman Wang Wenbin claimed that Qin’s absence was due to “health reasons,” Reuters reported.

However, China analysts, such as Steve Yates, senior fellow at America First Policy Institute and China Policy Initiative chair, believe that Qin was actually fired after being caught in an alleged affair with Fu Xiaotian, a Phoenix TV journalist.



“It may be months before we know for sure, but it seems most likely that now former Foreign Minister Qin Gang is held under the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection’s ‘special investigative’ tool liuzhi: an extrajudicial system of enforced disappearances as denounced by United Nations Human Rights mechanisms,” Laura Harth, campaign director for the European nonprofit Safeguard Defenders, told the DCNF.

Beginning as early as 2018, the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances at the United Nations Human Rights Office has “raised concerns” about China’s liuzhi detention system, according to UN records.

In recent years, the CCP has allegedly used the liuzhi system with increasing frequency, according to a Safeguard Defenders report. Between 2018 and 2021, the number of individuals allegedly placed into liuzhi jumped from approximately 13,000 to nearly 60,000.

“Qin’s disappearance hopefully brings some rare global attention to this ruthless system claiming thousands of victims each year as the CCP core seeks to maintain its heinous dictatorial leadership and crack down on constant internal strife,” Harth told the DCNF.

The Chinese Embassy, the UN Human Rights Office and U.S. State Department did not respond immediately to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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Philip Lenczycki

Daily Caller News Foundation investigative reporter, political journalist, and China watcher. Twitter: @LenczyckiPhilip