28th September 2023 – (Beijing) China’s former foreign minister, Qin Gang, has been implicated in an extramarital affair with a prominent Chinese television presenter, Fu Xiaotian, who allegedly had a child through surrogacy in the United States. The Financial Times (FT) reported on Tuesday that multiple unnamed sources confirmed the affair, shedding light on the mysterious disappearance and removal of Qin from his diplomatic position.
According to the FT report, Fu Xiaotian, 40, a former host of a flagship talk show on Phoenix TV, a Hong Kong-based Chinese broadcaster, was involved in a relationship with 57-year-old Qin. The sources, including individuals close to Fu and China’s foreign policy establishment, revealed that Fu had a child last year with the assistance of a surrogate mother in the US. However, the identity of the child’s father was not disclosed in the report.
CNN also spoke to two individuals who were acquainted with Fu, and they mentioned hearing from mutual friends that she had a child through surrogacy in the U.S., although they were unaware of the father’s identity.
This recent report from the FT adds another piece to the puzzle surrounding Qin’s unexplained disappearance and subsequent removal as foreign minister. Qin, who was once a trusted aide to Chinese leader Xi Jinping, vanished from public view for a month before his sudden removal from office in July. Beijing has not provided any explanation for his ouster and has avoided questions about his fate from foreign journalists during news briefings.
When questioned about the FT report at a regular press briefing, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry dismissed it as a non-diplomatic issue. CNN reached out to China’s State Council Information Office and Phoenix TV for comments but has not received a response. Neither Qin nor Fu, nor their representatives, could be reached for comment. Fu ceased posting on her WeChat social media account in May after returning to China from the U.S. in April.
In China, it is not uncommon for public figures, including officials, business magnates, and celebrities, to disappear for extended periods while under investigation, with news about their fate revealed only after the investigations conclude.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese officials were informed of an internal Communist Party investigation that found Qin to have engaged in an extramarital affair resulting in the birth of a child while he served as China’s envoy to Washington. The report did not disclose the names of the woman and child. The investigation is exploring whether the alleged affair and any other actions by Qin could have compromised China’s national security.
According to Qin’s official resume on Chinese government websites, he is listed as “married with a son.” Yun Sun, director of the China program at the Stimson Centre think tank in Washington, commented that while extramarital affairs are not uncommon in Chinese politics, there are few known cases of top leaders fathering children through such relationships. If Qin’s removal was indeed due to his alleged relationship, it would be a unique case, as no Chinese national-level leader is known to have been stripped of their position solely over an affair.
The rumours surrounding Qin and Fu’s alleged affair have been circulating on heavily censored social media platforms in China for months, following Qin’s initial disappearance in June. Fu gained fame as the host of the Phoenix TV program “Talk with World Leaders,” where she interviewed political and business figures from around the world, including Qin during his tenure as the Chinese ambassador to Washington.
Some individuals familiar with Fu revealed that she and Qin moved in the same social circles in London. They reportedly began a closer relationship nearly a decade later in Beijing. The FT reported that around the time Qin was appointed as foreign minister in December 2022, he started limiting contact with Fu, prompting her to drop hints about their relationship on social media.
Chinese social media users have scrutinised Fu’s Weibo posts since Qin’s disappearance. In March, on the day Qin was appointed state councillor at China’s parliamentary meeting, Fu posted a photo revealing her baby’s face for the first time, accompanied by the comment “A victorious conclusion.” She also mentioned in a previous post on the same day that the father of her child was not American and that she and her child would be returning to China soon.
Fu’s apparent wealth has added to the speculation surrounding her. She has shared photos on Weibo showcasing private jet trips and a luxurious residence in California’s affluent Orange County. It remains unclear how Fu, who had a decade-long career in journalism, could afford such a lavish lifestyle. One of Fu’s acquaintances mentioned that her mother worked as a teacher in their hometown, Chongqing, while her father held a managerial position at a production facility.
Fu’s coastal residence in California was listed for rent at $55,000 per month in 2021, boasting eight bedrooms, 9.5 bathrooms, an outdoor swimming pool, and a jacuzzi, according to public records.
Questions have been raised about Fu’s wealth and social prominence, considering her background as a journalist. In 2017, Fu received the Order of the Star of Italy at the Italian embassy in Beijing. According to reports, Fu had a child through surrogacy in the United States, but the identity of the child’s father was not disclosed. Qin’s sudden disappearance and subsequent removal from his diplomatic position earlier this year have been linked to this affair. Chinese officials have not provided any explanation for Qin’s ouster and have dismissed the affair as a non-diplomatic issue. The investigation into Qin’s alleged affair is said to be exploring whether it compromised China’s national security. While extramarital affairs are not uncommon in Chinese politics, there are few known cases of top leaders fathering children through such relationships. Rumours about Qin and Fu’s alleged affair had been circulating on heavily censored social media platforms in China prior to the recent reports. Fu gained fame as the host of a talk show on Phoenix TV, where she interviewed political and business figures, including Qin during his time as the Chinese ambassador to Washington. The speculation surrounding Fu’s apparent wealth and lifestyle has also added to the interest in this story.