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China dismisses defence minister Li Shangfu who has been missing for two months | World News

China’s defence minister, who has been missing from public life for nearly two months, has been removed from his post, according to state media.

General Li Shangfu was appointed to the role during a cabinet reshuffle in March but he has not been seen publicly since giving a speech on 29 August.

Gen Li, 65, is the second senior Chinese official who has disappeared this year and his ousting comes after that of former foreign minister Qin Gang, who was dismissed in July.

An announcement from state broadcaster CCTV said on Tuesday that both men had been removed from the State Council, China‘s cabinet and the centre of government – but officials have not offered explanations for either decision.

Qin Gang 
Pic:AP
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Former foreign minister Qin Gang was removed from his role in July. Pic: AP

It was reported last month that Gen Li was being investigated for alleged corruption relating to equipment procurement and development.

The move essentially signals the end of their political careers, but it is unclear if they will face prosecution or any other legal proceedings.

A replacement for Gen Li has not been announced, leaving China without a defence minister as it prepares for the arrival of foreign officials for the Beijing Xiangshan Forum on 29 October.

The removals have raised questions about the power of Xi Jinping, China’s current president and ruling Communist Party leader.

Mr Xi has a reputation for valuing loyalty and has relentlessly attacked corruption, in what has sometimes been seen as a way of eliminating political rivals and boosting his own political position amid a worsening economy and tensions with the US.

President of China Xi Jinping arrives at the 2023 BRICS Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa on August 23, 2023. GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/Pool via REUTERS
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China’s president Xi Jinping

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Gen Li is currently under US sanctions relating to his overseeing of weapon purchases from Russia that bar him from entering America.

China has since cut contact with the US military, mostly in protest at the US’s decision to sell arms to Taiwan, which Beijing refuses to recognise as a country.


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