Li Shangfu axed as defence minister in second China leadership shock

In World

China has removed General Li Shangfu as defence minister in the country’s second leadership shake-up in three months.

State broadcaster CCTV reported on Tuesday that Li had been removed, without explanation. It came after weeks of speculation over the fate of the US-sanctioned general, who has not been seen in public since the end of August. The decision to remove him was approved by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee.

Li is the second minister to be abruptly removed since Xi Jinping began his unprecedented third term as the party’s leader last October. Qin Gang was replaced as foreign minister in July by his predecessor Wang Yi, after a similar unexplained withdrawal from public engagements. The reason for Qin’s removal is still not known.

Li and Qin were also removed as state councillors on Tuesday – a higher ranking than regular ministers. No replacements were named.


Big political questions linger after China abruptly replaces its foreign minister

Big political questions linger after China abruptly replaces its foreign minister

The announcement came just days before a Pentagon delegation is due to arrive in Beijing for a regional security forum, paving the way for long-stalled high-level military dialogue between the two sides.

Unlike their counterparts in the West, Chinese foreign and defence ministers are chiefly policy enforcers, not the top decision-makers.

Li, 65, was also stripped of his Central Military Commission membership by China’s top legislative body, according to the CCTV report.

The NPC Standing Committee, which wrapped up a bi-monthly meeting on Tuesday, also appointed Liu Shaoyun as president of the Chinese military court after his predecessor, Major General Cheng Dongfang, left the post in September. It is unclear if Liu’s appointment is related to Li’s dismissal.

China defence chief made strong Shangri-La debut but one meeting got away

It is also not clear if Li’s downfall heralds a further shake-up in the military, which is undergoing its most dramatic modernisation in China’s history. Xi has set a target for the PLA to become a world-leading fighting force by 2049, which means reaching parity with the US.

No replacement for Li has been announced.

More to come …

Read More: Li Shangfu axed as defence minister in second China leadership shock

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