Handpicked by leader Xi Jinping to be China’s foreign minister late last year, Qin Gang — a fluent English speaker and savvy political operator — was expected to help guide Beijing through an increasingly tumultuous relationship with the United States.

Instead, just over half a year into the job, he disappeared, stoking rampant speculation about his fate. Was he ousted from the post? Did a rumored affair with a prominent television anchor or dissatisfaction among some in the ruling Communist Party lead to his downfall? Or was he just sick?

China’s top legislative body didn’t answer those questions late Tuesday, but it did resolve the most important one: Qin is out, removed from his post as foreign minister exactly one month since his last public appearance.