General Li Shangfu, China’s defense minister, has been conspicuously absent from public view for over two weeks, raising questions and speculation about his whereabouts. Reports suggest that he is under investigation for alleged corruption related to military equipment procurement.
Corruption Allegations and Investigation: Sources with direct connections to the Chinese military have indicated that General Li, who led the government’s military procurement unit from 2017 to 2022, is suspected of involvement in corrupt practices related to the acquisition of military equipment. Furthermore, eight officials from the same procurement unit are reportedly under investigation.
Ongoing Series of High-Ranking Official Disappearances: General Li’s disappearance is the latest in a series of unexplained vanishing acts involving high-ranking Chinese officials. Foreign Minister Qin Gang similarly disappeared from public view for a month in June, eventually being replaced by Wang Yi. This trend of unexplained absences has raised questions and speculation regarding the internal dynamics within the Chinese political establishment.
Potential Implications on Xi Jinping’s Leadership: The investigation into General Li’s alleged corruption may have broader implications for Xi Jinping’s ongoing efforts to reform the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Some believe that entrenched issues, including corruption, within the PLA could pose significant challenges to achieving Xi’s military objectives.
Expert Insights: Su Tzu-yun, a Chinese military expert from the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, suggests that the investigation into General Li’s activities could potentially impact Xi Jinping’s reputation and standing. While it may not lead to his removal from power, it could erode his prestige as a leader.
General Li’s Absence and Speculation: General Li, aged 65, has not been seen in public for nearly three weeks, leading to further speculation about his status. He also canceled a scheduled meeting in Vietnam, adding to the mystery surrounding his whereabouts.
US Ambassador’s Remarks: Rahm Emanuel, the US ambassador to Japan, took to social media to express concern about General Li’s situation, even raising the possibility of him being “placed under house arrest.”
Conclusion: General Li Shangfu’s unexplained absence and the allegations of corruption have added a layer of intrigue to the dynamics within the Chinese political and military establishment. As the situation continues to unfold, it remains to be seen how it will impact not only General Li’s career but also the broader landscape of Chinese politics and military affairs.