Headlines around the world have been buzzing about the unexplained disappearance and dramatic firing of former Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang.
Most internet rumors have focused on Mr. Qin’s affair with a prominent TV journalist as the main reason for his downfall.
However, a source close to a high-ranking Chinese Communist Party (CCP) official revealed to The Epoch Times that Mr. Qin was removed, not because of the extramarital affair, but because he violated a major CCP taboo and aroused the suspicion of Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Moreover, the anonymous source connected the dots between Mr. Qin’s purge and a recent scandal involving China’s top secret Rocket Force. The sensational revelation involves the sale of military secrets, a possible double agent, and fears of an uprising within the ranks of China’s military elite.
Qin Gang’s Mysterious Disappearance
Mr. Qin’s last public appearance was on June 25, when he met with officials from Sri Lanka, Russia, and Vietnam. After that meeting, he mysteriously disappeared from public view. The Chinese foreign ministry cited “health reasons” when he missed a string of official gatherings.
Throughout his month-long absence, rumors circulated on social media in China and abroad that Mr. Qin had been conducting an affair with prominent TV anchor Fu Xiaotian, who works for Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV, and that the two had a love child of American nationality.
Oddly, China—which strictly censors online speech—allowed the online gossip to spread freely, to the delight of the Chinese public.
On July 25, after only seven months on the job, Mr. Qin was removed from his post and replaced by his predecessor, veteran diplomat Wang Yi.
Details of Highly Secretive CCP Missile Force Revealed
Considered the most secretive branch of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), China’s Rocket Force is a strategic and tactical force responsible for the PLA’s land-based nuclear and conventional ballistic missiles.
However, on Oct. 24 of last year, the China Aerospace Studies Institute (CASI), a U.S. Air Force think tank, released a 242-page report (pdf) revealing in great detail the organizational structure of the Rocket Force.
The document includes a wide range of information, from the missile force’s high command system to its logistics product bases.
Specific information detailed in the report includes base location, the main functions of the unit, the Chinese and English names of military officials in charge, and the code numbers of each unit. The report also includes a tree diagram showing the photos, names, and relationships of key personnel in charge of each department of the Rocket Force.
In addition, the report includes a map showing the deployment of the Rocket Force in various parts of China. The report even begins with a special section on how to decipher the coded identification numbers of Rocket Force units.
Yao Cheng is a former Chinese lieutenant colonel living in exile in the United States, who still maintains connections in China’s military. Speaking on NTD TV’s Pinnacle View, he said that the level of detail in the report was shocking.
The Rocket Force is one of the most secretive units in the CCP, so it is doubtful that the detailed information was derived from satellite photos, Col. Yao said. Further, the highly specific information contained in the report is not available to lower-rank personnel because of internal secrecy rules.
Rocket Force Purge
Since he came to power, Mr. Xi has removed a number of military leaders in the name of fighting corruption, but his purge of the military rarely touched Rocket Force.
However, in the past several months, Chinese media outlets inside and outside of China have reported that multiple Rocket Force generals have been purged. The CCP was seeking to plug the leak that led to the CASI report.
Most recently, on July 27, Chinese state media The Paper reported that Wu Guohua, former deputy commander of the Rocket Force, had passed away on July 4 due to illness. The lieutenant general was 66 years old. A farewell ceremony was scheduled for July 30.
Issued almost a month after Gen. Wu’s death, the official announcement fueled speculation that he had committed suicide, rather than dying of a sudden cerebral hemorrhage as the announcement claimed. Moreover, the announcement was deleted soon after it appeared in The Paper.
Taiwanese media NewTalk had reported on the alleged suicide on July 10, citing inside sources.
Col. Yao also questioned the cause of Gen. Wu’s death. In a July 9 post, he explained that because of the Rocket Force leader’s high military ranking, he would have had access to premier medical care. It is unlikely that health problems such as those that allegedly caused his death, would have gone unchecked, Col. Yao said.
The CCP most likely hid the real reason for Gen. Wu’s death, he said, for fear it would destabilize the military.
Col. Yao said that due to Mr. Xi’s anti-corruption efforts, seven Chinese navy officers committed suicide. All were said to have “died of illness.”
Insider: Qin Gang’s Fall in Relation to Rocket Force Shake-up
Mr. Qin’s dismissal and the Rocket Force purge happened almost simultaneously.
On July 26, a source close to the top echelon of the CCP told The Epoch Times that Mr. Qin’s dismissal was actually triggered by dramatic events involving Rocket Force.
According to the source, the son of a high-ranking Rocket Force officer is studying and doing business in the United States. It was this young man who allegedly sold Rocket Force’s missile distribution maps to the United States, the source said.
The CCP’s agents in the United States were informed of the leak, and reported the incident to Mr. Qin. However, Mr. Qin did not immediately report the incident to Mr. Xi, according to the insider.
“This is where the problem lies,” the source said.
When probing the leak, the CCP’s investigators discovered that Ms. Fu was involved.
Reportedly, the officer’s family asked the TV news anchor to speak to Mr. Qin, in the hope that Mr. Qin would help to hide the leak incident. Ms. Fu knows the family well but Mr. Qin is not within their social network.
This led to a delay in reporting the intelligence leak, the source said.
According to the insider, Mr. Qin may have even intervened to put in a good word for the officer’s son, although it was ineffective.
Mr. Qin’s delay in reporting the leak alarmed Mr. Xi, the source said, and caused him to look on Mr. Qin with suspicion.
Rumored To Be a Double Agent
The anonymous source—echoing some media reports—speculated that the newscaster is actually a double agent.
“On the surface, she is an employee of Phoenix TV, but in fact, she is working under the Second Department of the General Staff. I don’t know how she turned to become a double agent who also works for the United States,” the insider said.
“She approached Qin Gang with a purpose,” he said.
The Second Department of the General Staff is the special intelligence unit of the Chinese military.
For investigators, Ms. Fu is the key to cracking the whole case. According to the inside source, Ms. Fu confessed that she had asked Mr. Qin to find a way to cover up the leak incident.
When asked why Ms. Fu would bring harm to the father of her child, the source speculated that Ms. Fu did not intend to harm Mr. Qin. However, she bungled the effort, ultimately implicating her lover. “She was supposed to work in secret, but she exposed many things to the public,” the source said.
Rumors about Mr. Qin’s affair with the attractive journalist circulated on WeChat for weeks following Mr. Qin’s disappearance. The insider noted that this is highly unusual.
“It would have been impossible for such scandals to spread freely, without censorship, on WeChat. In fact, the CCP’s cyber police, instructed by some top CCP leaders, are fanning the flames behind the scenes, to help spread the scandal far and wide, so that the public would become increasingly receptive to the idea that Qin Gang would be taken down,” he said.
Backstabbing by Jealous CCP Princelings
The insider speculated further that Mr. Qin—who was personally promoted by Mr. Xi—was the victim of jealous CCP “princelings,” who took the opportunity to get rid of him.
“Xi Jinping has long been a paranoid person, always feeling afraid that others may want to oppose him. Therefore, anyone who poses the slightest threat to Xi Jinping will be eliminated. As soon as Xi Jinping thinks that Mr. Qin has ambitions, he will end Mr. Qin’s life. Now Xi Jinping not only thinks that Qin Gang attempted to cover up a crime, he even suspects that Qin Gang is trying to take over the throne,” the insider said.
To summarize, Ms. Fu caused Mr. Qin’s downfall. Her confession, combined with political backstabbing, led to Mr. Xi’s decision to oust Mr. Qin, the insider said.
He said that for Mr. Qin, the story is unlikely to have a happy ending. “The Chinese Communist Party is very vicious when it comes to eliminating dissidents,” he said.
Yuan Hongbing, a former professor of law at Peking University, now living in exile in Australia, spoke to The Epoch Times on July 17 about Mr. Qin’s situation. According to Mr. Yuan, high-ranking officials—particularly those in the military and political sectors—are not allowed to have cross-sector exchanges. That is a major taboo for the party, Mr. Yuan said. Mr. Qin violated this rule by attempting to intercede for the military officer’s son.
Qin Gang’s Meteoric Rise and Fall
Between October 2022 and March 2023—in less than half a year—Mr. Qin, who is 57 this year, was promoted three times in rapid succession.
In October, at the CCP’s 20th National Congress, Mr. Qin was elected a member of the Central Committee of the CCP.
In December of last year, he assumed the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs. And in March of this year, he was appointed to the State Council.
However, Mr. Qin’s star fell just as dramatically as it rose. After the Rocket Force incident, he became China’s most short-lived foreign minister.