Defense Minister Li Shangfu has been out of public view for more than two weeks. The ministerial visit to Vietnam was skipped and no reason was given.
BEIJING Strange things are happening in China’s leadership.
In July, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Qin Gang disappeared from public view until a couple of weeks later it was reported that he had moved on to other duties.
Now the defense minister is missing Li Shangfu. He was last seen on official duty at the end of August.
Doubts about Li’s possible shelving have grown little by little.
Singapore’s naval commander, who visited Beijing last week, waited in vain to meet Li. The astonishment grew even more when the defense minister agreed to the end of last week the work visit to Vietnam was cancelled without telling the reason.
US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel speculated today on community service X that Li may have been placed under house arrest.
British newspaper The Financial Times’ sources in US intelligence circles suspect that an investigation has been launched against the Minister of Defense in Beijing. The sources do not reveal what the investigation might involve.
The Chinese administration and state media have not commented on the matter in any way. There was also no discussion on the matter on the Chinese social media platforms Douyin and Bilibili on Friday.
The commanders of the special forces have also been changed
In China, the commanders of the elite forces of the armed forces, the so-called rocket forces of the People’s Army, have also had to be replaced in recent months.
The personnel changes made in complete silence raise the question of what is really happening in Beijing’s power circles.
The foreign and defense ministers are high in the Chinese hierarchy. Li belongs to the State Council, which is administratively the highest executive body of the People’s Republic.
Along with Li, the commanders of the rocket forces are key players in China’s defense.
Li Shangfu on US sanctions list
Foreign Minister Qin, who had to be replaced in July, was the leader of China Xi Jinping a protégé who came to his position via the traditional official route. His followers Wang Yi has had a more typical career for a foreign minister in the foreign affairs administration and the communist party.
The 65-year-old General Li was elected Minister of Defense in March this year. He has had a long and illustrious career in the Chinese Armed Forces.
He is a space technology engineer by basic education. After joining the army, he began developing China’s satellite technology.
The United States placed Li on its sanctions list in 2018 for his involvement in arms deals between China and Russia. Li was negotiating deals when China acquired SU-35 fighter jets and S-400 missile systems from Russia.