Experts concerned about mysterious disappearance of China’s defense minister

There has been no trace of Chinese Defense Minister General Li Shangfu for almost three weeks. How “The Guardian” reports, speculation is increasing about a possible investigation against him. Shangfu last appeared publicly on August 29 at a forum on China-Africa peace and security cooperation.

According to information obtained by Reuters, which was confirmed by ten people, Shangfu is currently under official investigation. It concerns the procurement of military equipment during his time as head of the procurement unit of the Chinese armed forces from 2017 to 2022. The investigation is being carried out by the military’s influential disciplinary inspection commission.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman has not yet commented on the events and the Ministry of Defense and the State Council have not responded to inquiries, as “The Guardian” further reports.

First the Chinese foreign minister was removed – now the defense minister?

News of Shangfu’s disappearance comes shortly after the surprise ouster in July of Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, who also went into hiding for weeks. In addition, President Xi Jinping replaced two senior missile force generals in early August, indicating a significant restructuring of the military leadership.

US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel expressed concern over Li’s disappearance and criticized the Chinese government’s lack of transparency. He speculated in a post on X/Twitter about a possible house arrest for Li, but did not name a source for this claim.

Concern about China’s internal development

Experts express concern over repeated cases of disappearances of senior government officials and emphasize the importance of Shangfu and Gang as primary contacts for the international community. Their absence underscores China’s increasingly inward-looking policies, the reports say.

As defense minister, Shangfu held an important position. Recent events raise questions about the stability and political tensions within the Chinese government, particularly given President Xi’s long-running anti-corruption campaign that has also targeted political opponents.

Jean Harris

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