Chinese defence minister faces corruption probe

World Saturday 16/September/2023 14:30 PM
By: DW
Chinese defence minister faces corruption probe

Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu, who has been missing from public view for more than two weeks, is reportedly under investigation for corruption, according to multiple media reports.

News agency Reuters cited 10 people familiar with the matter, while Britain's Financial Times newspaper cited US intelligence as confirming the probe into Li's conduct.

The Wall Street Journal also cited a person close to decision making in Beijing as saying that Li was taken away for questioning last week.

Eight senior officials from the Chinese military's procurement unit, which Li led from 2017 to 2022, are also reportedly under investigation.

Beijing said it was unaware of the situation.

Li was last seen on August 29 when he gave a keynote speech at a security forum with African nations in Beijing.

He did not attend a September 7 defense meeting in Vietnam. Hanoi cited a "health condition."

Li was also scheduled to hold talks with a senior Singaporean military official in China the same week, which he also did not attend.

This raised questions as to his whereabouts among regional diplomats and social media commentators alike.

China orders 'clean-up'

In July, China's military procurement unit issued a notice that it was looking to "clean up" its bidding process.

It invited the public to report irregularities dating back to October 2017, shortly after Li first took over the unit.

The disappearance of Li follows the sacking of Foreign Minister Qin Gang in July after a prolonged absence from public view.

The head of the People's Liberation Army's elite Rocket Force, Li Yuchao, was also removed from his position in similar circumstances.

The US ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel, speculated on social media that Li had been placed under house arrest.

"As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, 'Something is rotten in the state of Denmark'," he tweeted.