Skip to content

China’s Baseball-Tossing, Tesla-Riding Envoy Signals Lower-Key Diplomatic Strategy

  • Top foreign minister contender Qin Gang strikes gentler tone
  • Personnel moves coincide with Xi push to repair ties with West
Qin Gang

Qin Gang

Photographer: Catalina Fragoso/NBAE/Getty Images

As China’s ambassador to the US, Qin Gang has walked a fine line: He’s assertively pressed Beijing’s interests with its biggest rival, while showcasing a softer side to Chinese diplomacy. 

During his year in Washington, the 56-year-old envoy has thrown out the first pitch at St. Louis Cardinals game, shared a picture of a personalized Lakers jersey and taken a ride in a Tesla with Elon Musk. The one-time Foreign Ministry spokesman has delivered some of China’s most moderate messages on hot topics, arguing Beijing would’ve tried to stop Russia from invading Ukraine if it had known and playing down the risk of a war with Taiwan.