Xiaotian Fu (middle) at the opening of Churchill College’s Xiaotian Fu Garden in 2016Andrewyucaop

A Churchill College alumna, who has a garden at the college named after her, is at the centre of a scandal surrounding the resignation of China’s Foreign Minister. 

Xiaotian Fu is a Chinese broadcaster who is now alleged, according to a report from The Times, to have had an affair with the Chinese Foreign Minister. The scandal saw the Chinese Foreign Minister disappear from public life earlier this month before he was abruptly sacked earlier this week. Fu, and her newborn son Er-Kin, have also both gone missing over an apparent “violation of Chinese Ministry of State Security regulations”.

Churchill College opened the Xiaotian Fu Garden in 2016 to recognise Fu’s “support for education, learning and research”. Fu said in an interview with Churchill that she is keen to “give back through philanthropy and volunteerism” as “democracy extends around the world in a more profound way than ever before”.

The speculation surrounding Fu’s alleged relationship with the Chinese Foreign Minister, Gang Qin, intensified over the past few days in Hong Kong and Taiwanese media. Qin has not been seen since 25th June, an unusually long absence for a Foreign Minister that has seen him miss an international ASEAN summit with south east Asian countries.

China officially issued a statement that Qin’s absence was due to health issues. However, experts speaking to The Times suggested Qin’s disappearance could be an attempt to improve the country’s “international credibility” after a deteriorating relationship with the West which the incumbent Foreign Minister had been the “public face” of.

The Financial Times reported that Qin has previously been arrested for taking more than $2 million in bribes. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has since erased all mention of Qin after sacking him. Nonetheless, evidence of his “unusual relationship”, including what Chinese viewers have suggested are “flirtatious” interviews with broadcaster Fu in her last television appearance, have notably not been blocked on Chinese social media. 


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China is already high on the list of priorities of Cambridge’s new vice-chancellor, Deborah Prentice, who said earlier this month that she is keen to “push” safeguards to allow researchers to vet partnerships with China. The scandal could prompt further scrutiny of the relationships of Cambridge colleges with Chinese investors and philanthropists with links to the Chinese administration. 

Fu completed an MPhil in Education at Churchill College in 2007 and is the host of a flagship political interview show in Hong Kong called Talk with World Leaders. Fu has interviewed several notable politicians from around the world, including Shinzo Abe and Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and former US Secretary of State John Kerry. The college celebrated Fu’s knighthood conferred by the Italian Ambassador in 2017 on their website.