Mysterious disappearance: Where is China's Defense Minister?

Written by Jakob A. Overgaard

Sep.24 - 2023 4:31 PM CET

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Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock
Mysterious disappearance: Where is China's Defense Minister?

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China's Defense Minister, Li Shangfu, has been conspicuously absent from the public eye for nearly a month, sparking widespread speculation and concern. The Chinese authorities, however, remain tight-lipped about his whereabouts.

Li Shangfu is no ordinary figure.

For almost two decades, he has been a prominent figure in China's political landscape. Since March 2023, he has held the esteemed position of Defense Minister, one of the most significant roles in the country, placing him in close proximity to President Xi Jinping. But something seems amiss.

Multiple international media outlets, including Reuters, have reported that Li hasn't been seen in public for almost a month, naturally fueling rumors. Yet, China has refrained from commenting on the Defense Minister's situation. Mao Ning, the spokesperson for the regime, declined to address questions from journalists about Li Shangfu's current status.

It remains unclear what exactly has transpired with the high-ranking general. However, in the past, Rahm Emanuel, the former U.S. ambassador to Japan, speculated that Li Shangfu might be under house arrest.

The silence from the Chinese authorities extends beyond just Li's disappearance. They have also been reticent about the rumored reason behind his alleged detention. The Defense Minister is reportedly embroiled in an ongoing corruption scandal in China.

Along with eight others, Li Shangfu is suspected of corruption related to the purchase of military equipment between 2017 and 2022. During this period, he was responsible for overseeing the military's procurement of equipment, making him a prime suspect in the case.

The last confirmed sighting of the general was on August 29th, when he spoke at a security conference focusing on the relationship between Africa and China. Since then, he has seemingly vanished without a trace.

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