Moscow (Russian Federation), 15/04/2023.- Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu attends a meeting with Russian President Putin in Moscow, Russia, 16 April 2023. Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister General Li Shangfu is on an official visit to Russia from 16 to 19 April. (Rusia, Moscú) EFE/EPA/PAVEL BEDNYAKOV/SPUTNIK/KREMLIN / POOL

China removes Li Shangfu as defense minister after two-month absence

Beijing, Oct 24 (EFE).- China has dismissed Li Shangfu from his position as defense minister, state media reported on Tuesday.

Li was last seen at public and official events at the end of August.

“Li Shangfu was removed from the posts of state councilor and national defense minister (…) according to a decision adopted at the sixth session of the Standing Committee of the 14th National People’s Congress on Tuesday,” the state-run China Daily reported.

The statement did not provide the exact reasons for the dismissal.

This marks the second high-profile ministerial removal within three months, following the disappearance of the country’s foreign minister, Qin Gang, in July.

It is unclear who will succeed Li as the head of the defense portfolio.

In September, western media, citing US officials, reported that Li was under house arrest and was being investigated for corruption-related cases.

Li’s disappearance from official events came just two months after the Chinese government removed two generals from the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force, responsible for overseeing the nation’s long-range missiles and nuclear weapons.

Li, who assumed the role of defense minister in March, has been under US sanctions for procuring weapons from Russia.

The removal of the defense minister comes just days before a planned trip by a US defense delegation to China for the Xiangshan Security Forum next week, a visit that is seen as an attempt to revive high-level inter-military dialogue that has long been stagnant.

It is believed that the recent rapprochement between Beijing and Washington may pave the way for a meeting between US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, scheduled for November in San Francisco. EFE