Li was final seen in Beijing on the finish of August when he gave a keynote handle at a safety discussion board with African nations.
China’s Defence Minister Li Shangfu has not been seen in public for greater than three weeks.
Britain’s Monetary Occasions newspaper reported on Friday that the USA believed 65-year-old Li had been stripped of his duties and was below investigation by Chinese language authorities.
The Reuters information company, in the meantime, reported Li had pulled out of a gathering with Vietnamese defence officers every week in the past.
The hypothesis about Li’s whereabouts follows the abrupt disappearance from public view in July of Chinese language Foreign Minister Qin Gang. It was later introduced he had been faraway from his submit.
Right here’s what we all know up to now:
Who’s Li Shangfu?
- Li Shangfu was born in February 1958, the son of a high-ranking Folks’s Liberation Military (PLA) commander who survived the Lengthy March and later fought within the Korean Struggle.
- Based on Chinese language media, he graduated from the PLA’s Nationwide College of Protection Expertise (NUDT) in 1982 and was later awarded a grasp’s diploma in engineering. He was deployed for greater than 30 years on the navy’s Xichang Satellite tv for pc Launch Centre.
- In 2016, Li was named deputy commander of the navy’s then-new Strategic Help Power – an elite physique tasked with accelerating the event of area and cyber warfare capabilities. The next 12 months, he was appointed to move the navy’s procurement unit.
- Seen as fiercely loyal to President Xi Jinping, Li turned defence minister in March.
- Whereas he’s a basic, the place itself primarily includes defence diplomacy, and Li’s attendance on the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore in June was closely watched.
- Li is certainly one of 5 State Councillors, a Chinese language cupboard place that ranks larger in seniority than a daily minister.
- Washington imposed sanctions on Li in 2018 over shopping for weapons from Russia’s largest arms exporter, Rosoboronexport. He has refused to carry conferences with US officers till sanctions are lifted, and US Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin’s try to carry talks through the Singapore occasion obtained no additional than a handshake.
When was Li final seen?
- Li attended a safety convention close to Moscow, the Russian capital, on August 15.
- Two days later, the federal government of neighbouring Belarus launched pictures exhibiting Li in a gathering with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk.
- On August 29, Li delivered a keynote handle on the Africa Peace and Safety Discussion board in Beijing.
As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “One thing is rotten within the state of Denmark.” 1st: Protection Minister Li Shangfu hasn’t been seen or heard from in 3 weeks. 2nd: He was a no-show for his journey to Vietnam. Now: He’s absent from his scheduled assembly with the Singaporean Chief of Navy…
— ラーム・エマニュエル駐日米国大使 (@USAmbJapan) September 15, 2023
What’s fuelling the hypothesis over his destiny?
- The management of China’s Rocket Power, the military unit that oversees its nuclear arsenal, was changed in July. Its former commander, Li Yuchao, had not been seen in public for weeks earlier than the change and Xinhua, China’s official media company, gave no rationalization for his elimination.
- International Minister Qin additionally disappeared from public view in July, earlier than it was introduced he’d been replaced. No rationalization has been given for his departure after simply seven months on the job.
- Hypothesis over Li’s destiny has elevated after China’s annual gathering on defence cooperation with Vietnam scheduled for September 7-8 was postponed. The Reuters information company, citing two Vietnamese officers who declined to be named, mentioned that Beijing advised Hanoi days earlier than the occasion that the minister had a “well being situation”.
- Rahm Emanuel, the US ambassador to Japan, puzzled what had occurred to Li in a submit on X, previously often called Twitter, on September 8, saying President Xi Jinping’s cupboard “is now resembling Agatha Christie’s novel And Then There Have been None”.
- On Friday morning, Emanuel once more took to social media to notice Li hadn’t “been seen or heard from in 3 weeks”, and that he may need been positioned below home arrest.
- China has mentioned little. When requested about Emanuel’s authentic submit, a Chinese language International Ministry spokeswoman advised reporters she was “not conscious of the scenario”.