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Rumours swirl over whereabouts of China’s defense minister Li Shangfu


BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping called for unity and stability within the military during an inspection in the northeast, just as speculation mounts over the whereabouts of the country’s defense minister.
Xi urged efforts to enforce education and management of troops, while maintaining a high level of unity, security and stability, Xinhua News reported Sunday. His comments come as Rahm Emanuel, the US ambassador to Japan, riffed on speculation about the recent absence of officials including former foreign minister Qin Gang, former Rocket Force generals and defense minister Li Shangfu.

Rumors have been swirling on X, the social platform formerly known as Twitter, over Li’s whereabouts. His last public appearance was on August 29 when he delivered a keynote speech at the 3rd China-Africa Peace and Security Forum in Beijing.
China watchers have for some weeks been scrutinizing unusual developments in Beijing. Xi in July ousted Qin, his handpicked foreign minister, without explanation. The two most-senior leaders in the People’s Liberation Army’s Rocket Force, whom he had also appointed, were then replaced.
China’s military also launched an inquiry into corruption cases linked to hardware procurement going back more than five years in July. The PLA’s Equipment Development Department listed eight issues it was looking into, including “leaking information on projects and army units” and helping certain companies secure bids.
The military said it was investigating problems going back to October 2017, without saying why the date was significant. China’s defense minister Li headed the equipment department from September 2017 to 2022, though there is no sign that he is suspected of wrongdoing.
Xi, in his speech on Friday, also urged efforts to improve the level of combat readinesses and the building of new combat capabilities, Xinhua reported. He was accompanied by Zhang Youxia, vice chairman of China’s top military body.


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