China, Defense Minister removed: Xi Jinping’s purges continue

General Li Shangfu has not appeared in public since August 29

Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu removed from office. The general, reports the South China Morning Post which relaunches news from the official Chinese agency Xinhua, was removed without reasons being given, a decision approved by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. Li has not been seen in public since the end of August.

The general sanctioned by the USA in relation to the purchase of Russian armaments appears to be the latest to be affected by the purges of Xi Jinping, in power since 2012, who has promoted a decisive path of centralization of power and made the fight against corruption his strong point. Li had been appointed to the position last March, like his now former Foreign Affairs colleague, Qin Gang, who was sacked in July. Both today – reported the China Daily on the basis of a decision adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress – were dismissed as state councilors, a more important role than the role of minister.

Li was last seen on August 29, the day he gave a speech at a China-Africa security forum. His last trip abroad was in mid-August, when he was in Moscow and Minsk. In mid-September, Reuters reported that Li, along with eight other high-level officials, was under investigation for corruption in relation to the supply of military equipment when he headed the Military Commission’s special office. central between September 2017 and last October. Even US intelligence, the newspaper wrote, has reached similar conclusions.

All after the Department of Military Equipment made it known in July, a rare move, that investigations were underway for corruption relating to tender procedures and the formation of ‘cliques’ for events dating back to 2017. In August they were replaced two powerful generals. At the end of September Li had not participated in an important meeting chaired by Xi, he did not appear in the images broadcast by Chinese TV after the Politburo meeting and, highlighted Bloomberg relaunched by Europa Press, since his appointment in March he had never missed a high-level meeting level like that. Because even if the state councilors do not always participate in these meetings, on that occasion three of the five councilors were present. The only ones absent were Li and Qin.