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China, the West, and the Rest: Who is Enjoying the Shadow of Whom?

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On Tuesday, July 25, 2023, Beijing announced that seasoned diplomat Wang Yi would return to his function as head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a post he had held for ten years (2013–2022). With this, he replaced his predecessor Qin Gang, a so-called ‘wolf warrior’ diplomat who was in office for only a few months. When former premier Li Keqiang (2013–2023) died of a heart attack on October 27, 2023, crowds of ordinary citizens laid chrysanthemum bouquets across the country, mourning for the more open and optimistic times that had characterized the era under Li’s patron, State President and General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Hu Jintao (r. 2002–2012). Minister of Defense Li Shangfu was, after an equally short stint in office, replaced by former People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) admiral Dong Jun on December 29, 2023. In the case of Li Shangfu, who was sanctioned by the United States (US) over arms sales to Russia, his resignation was combined with a purge and crackdown on corruption within the rocket force of the PLA. Given the focus on the PLAN in Xi Jinping’s military reforms of the mid-2010s, this could be interpreted as an advantage point for the faction of China’s leader. This signal stands in contrast to the promotion of Hu Haifeng, the son of Hu Jintao, to vice minister of Civil Affairs on January 16, 2024. Keeping the much-speculated removal of Hu’s father during the 20th National Congress of the CCP of October 22, 2022 into mind, one might ask: Who enjoys whose sunlight to step out of the shadows?




(Photo credit: Nick Ritz, Pixabay)