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Qin Gang: China removes foreign minister after unexplained absence

China has removed Qin Gang as foreign minister less than seven months after he was appointed to the post.

Mr Qin had been seen as a close associate of President Xi Jinping. The role will be taken up by Communist Party foreign affairs chief Wang Yi.

Mr Qin's prolonged disappearance from public view - and official silence over it - has fuelled furious speculation.

The 57-year-old's last known public engagements were on 25 June. No reason was given for his removal.

He had been appointed by China's leader to his post last December. His departure ends weeks of confusion, but leaves many questions unanswered.

"China's top legislature voted to appoint Wang Yi as foreign minister," state news agency Xinhua said.

"Qin Gang was removed from the post of foreign minister."

The report said President Xi had signed the decree authorising the move. Legislators also voted to replace China's Central Bank chief - economist Pan Gongsheng will replace outgoing governor Yi Gang, Xinhua added.

Under the Chinese Communist Party system, foreign policy is formulated by a high-level official, who then directs the foreign minister to implement it.

Wang Yi is returning to a post he held between 2018 and 2022. He is currently in South Africa attending a Brics national security meeting.

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