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In China, an investigation against the Minister of Defense in connection with the procurement of military equipment



Li was last seen in public on August 29

Defense Minister Li Shangfu, who has not been seen in public for more than two weeks, is under investigation in China, 10 people familiar with the matter said. The investigation is related to the procurement of military equipment.

Reuters cited multiple sources, including three people with direct contact with the Chinese military, on the subject of the investigation, but was unable to obtain details on which equipment purchases were being reviewed.

Eight senior staff members of the military’s procurement unit, which Li led from 2017 to 2022, are also under investigation, two people close to the military said.

The investigation against Li, who was appointed to the position of defense minister in March this year, and eight employees is said to be led by the influential military commission for disciplinary control.

In July, the Army’s procurement unit took the highly unusual step of announcing that it wanted “clean up” ordering process. It urged the public to report wrongdoing going back to October 2017, when Li was in charge of the unit. He led it until October 2022.

A spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry said on Friday that she was not aware of the matter. The State Council and the Defense Ministry did not respond to questions from Reuters, and Li could not be reached.

Li was last seen in public in August

On Friday, the Financial Times reported that the US government believed Li was under investigation, with the British newspaper citing US government officials.

The Wall Street Journal, citing a person close to decision-makers in Beijing, reported that Li was taken in for questioning last week.

Li was last seen in public on August 29 when he was a speaker at a security forum with African countries. In August, he also visited Russia and Belarus.

The investigation against the minister began shortly after he returned from that trip, said a person in direct contact with the military and two foreign security officials said to be familiar with the situation.

In early September, the Defense Ministry canceled Li’s Sept. 7-8 visit to Vietnam, a Vietnamese official told Reuters. Beijing reportedly informed Hanoi that Li had a visit at the time of the postponement “Health issues”.

Li’s reported absence from Vietnam and the cancellation of a meeting with a senior Singaporean military official in China that week raised questions among regional diplomats and social media users about Li’s whereabouts.

Before the investigation, Li is replaced by Chin

The investigation against the defense minister follows an unexplained replacement of the foreign minister Rank of Ganga in July following his prolonged absence from public view and turmoil in the leadership of the army’s elite missile unit, responsible for conventional and nuclear missiles. Even China was initially told in Beijing that he was absent for health reasons.

Both Li and Chin were seen by those familiar with Chinese politics as President Xi Jinping’s picks, making their absence after less than a year in office all the more noticeable. Both are also state councilors, of which there are five in total, and this position is higher than that of a minister.

In 2016, Li was appointed deputy commander of the military’s then-new Strategic Support Force, tasked with developing space and cyber warfare capabilities. The following year, he became the head of the military procurement unit.

In 2018, the United States imposed sanctions on Li for purchasing weapons from Russia’s largest arms exporter, Rosoboronexport.

Source: Rtvslo

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