Qin Gang, China's new foreign minister, has a tongue hardened by years of diplomatic struggle. He knows how to answer dialectical blows, can handle adversity if necessary, exudes self-confidence. Aged 56, he has been employed by China's foreign ministry for more than three decades and became a face known for his often sharp retorts as a foreign affairs spokesman. He strengthened ties with the president, Xi Jinping, as he accompanied him through the capitals of the world…
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Qin Gang, China's new foreign minister, has a tongue hardened by years of diplomatic struggle. He knows how to answer dialectical blows, can handle adversity if necessary, exudes self-confidence. Aged 56, he has been employed by China's foreign ministry for more than three decades and became a face known for his often sharp retorts as a foreign affairs spokesman. He strengthened ties with President Xi Jinping when he guided him through the world's capitals after being appointed Director General of Protocol. It is now up to this 56-year-old man to project the Chinese diplomatic tune abroad in a period of global fear, with the war in Ukraine burning in Europe and relations with the United States at a critical juncture.
The list of disputes is long, ranging from the blockade in the semiconductor sector to the existential question of Taiwan, and on Wednesday, in his first appearance as press minister, he made his mark on quite a few blunt interventions: “If the United States don't slam on the brakes and go full speed ahead on the wrong path, there will be no guardrail to prevent derailment, and conflict and confrontation will certainly ensue,” he warned Washington.
He took office in December 2022, after a brief stint as ambassador to Washington. He is often assigned to the so-called “wancient warriors”, the warrior wolves, exponents of Beijing's sharp diplomacy in recent years. The title honors an action blockbuster, a kind of Chinese Rambo, who spreads bullets and elevates national values (there are two parts, wolf warrior 1 And 2released in 2015 and 2017 respectively).
“Hard and direct”
Everyone who has encountered him in his diplomatic career still remembers him. In the words of a senior official from a European capital, who had a high-level meeting with Qin – telematics: these were pandemic times – when he was vice foreign minister: “I was surprised that he was so harsh and direct .”
Encounters of this type tend to be quiet and then, perhaps as an aside, become more frank. In this case, it was bitter as soon as the conversation turned to Tibet, Hong Kong and those issues that China doesn't like. Beijing was asked to agree to the visit of the then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, to Xinjiang, a region suspected of repression of the Uyghur minority. Qin was furious and replied that who they were to teach human rights lessons when China lifted millions out of poverty and demonstrations were violently crushed in some parts of Europe, he recalls. His reaction, the source describes, was typical of a “big bad wolf.” “Now we will see if he bites or not as a minister, because his function is to open doors,” he says.
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Bachelet managed to make that visit; The report, released last summer, argues that China was able to commit crimes against humanity against Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities through a policy of mass arbitrary detention and other serious abuses.
Some analysts credit Qin with his intention to cut the flames with the United States during his last term as ambassador to Washington. It was sent shortly after Joe Biden arrived at the White House in 2021, after Donald Trump's flammable mandate, but he didn't have time to dig into it either.
After about a year and a half, he left office and wrote a column The Washington Post by way of farewell “The future of the planet depends on a stable relationship between the United States and China,” he called the article, acknowledging that he landed in the US capital at a “complicated and difficult” moment with almost all dialogue and exchange mechanisms. suspended. ; “Unjustly Sanctioned” Chinese Companies; interpersonal exchanges “hard hit by the pandemic”; and with his country often regarded as America's “most serious competitor.” Things did not improve during his stay. By 2023, perceptions of China among Americans have reached an all-time low with only 15% positive about it, according to Gallup.
Executor of the president's policies
In diplomatic circles, they do not give him much power to act and believe that he will be an executor of the policies of Xi Jinping, a president surrounded by a tailor-made power leadership and without dissenting votes after the Communist Party congress last October. The shift will culminate next Friday with his re-election – in all likelihood – as the country's president in the plenary session of the National People's Congress (the Chinese legislature). “In my opinion, [Qin] it is a wolf warrior from the heart,” says a Beijing-based European diplomat. “Now he will play the role assigned to him as minister.”
At this point, it can be concluded that Xi is the one who has the baton and Qin who takes the speaker and raises the decibel. If the president assured on Monday that “the Western countries, led by the United States, contain and completely suppress China”; the next day, at his media premiere, Qin accused Washington of wanting to “curb and suppress” Beijing on its development path, wanting to “stumble” it in an awkward way, succumbing to a “new hysterical McCarthyism”. He demanded that he stop interfering in what the Asian country considers an “internal matter” (Taiwan) and accompanied the intervention with a theatrical gesture (replicated in numerous media and came to say that he controls the scene). So he took a copy of the constitution in his hands and read: “Taiwan is part of the sacred territory of the People's Republic of China.”
Born in the port province of Tianjin, Qin studied at Beijing University of International Relations, where many executives with foreign vocation are trained; according to The New York Times, briefly worked for the US agency United Press International as an assistant, an almost essential figure for the foreign press in China; He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1992, where he has risen through the ranks: he was promoted to Head of the Information Department in 2011, to General Director of Protocol in 2014, to Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2018; in between he was an adviser and minister to the Chinese diplomatic mission in the United Kingdom. In October, he became a member of the Party's Central Committee, one of the highest power organs in the communist hierarchy, the springboard to the minister's portfolio. He speaks English, is married, has a son.
His fame of wolf warrior it's so voluminous that one of the questions in Tuesday's press conference revolved around the issue (indicating Beijing's interest: the issues are pre-filtered). His ironic response provoked a wave of laughter: “I remember when I first arrived as the Chinese ambassador to the United States, the American media shouted, ‘Here comes a Chinese wolf warrior.' On his return to Beijing, he said, they stopped calling him that. “I feel a little lost,” he joked.
But the so-called “diplomacy wolf warrior”, he added, is a “narrative trap”. He quoted Confucius: “Kindness must be answered with kindness and resentment with justice.” And he assured that Beijing's foreign policy “does not lack good will and kindness”, but in the event of attacks by “jackals or wolves”, Chinese diplomats have no choice but to “dance with the wolves and protect the fatherland” .
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