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Where is China’s defense minister?

The location of China’s defense minister remains undisclosed as Beijing maintains a veil of silence.

China is facing uncertainty regarding its defense minister’s whereabouts as he has been absent from public view for several weeks. Beijing has chosen to remain tight-lipped about the situation, leading to increasing speculation about his status, given that he was last seen in public a month ago.

General Li Shangfu’s unexplained absence since late August has given rise to various rumors about his well-being. However, during a regular press briefing held on Thursday, Defense Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian, when asked whether the minister was under investigation, responded by stating that he was “not aware of the situation.”

Li’s disappearance is part of a broader pattern of unexpected personnel changes that have disrupted the upper echelons of China’s ruling Communist Party this summer. This includes the removal of former Foreign Minister Qin Gang in July and the subsequent replacement of two generals in charge of the People‚Äôs Liberation Army Rocket Force, responsible for China’s nuclear and ballistic missile arsenal.

When questioned about the impact of Li’s absence and the replacement of the two generals on military operations, Wu referred to his previous statements to reporters from the previous month, where he pledged to “investigate every case and crack down on every corrupt official,” according to reports from Reuters at that time.

The consecutive disappearances of two high-profile ministers have raised concerns about the leadership of Xi Jinping, who has made China’s political system even more opaque as he centralizes power and enforces strict party discipline.

In the past, senior Chinese officials have vanished from the public eye, only to reappear months later when the Communist Party’s disciplinary watchdog revealed that they had been detained for investigations. Such sudden disappearances have become a common feature of Xi’s anti-corruption campaign, and information gaps are not uncommon within the Chinese political system.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Li had been taken into custody by authorities for questioning in September, according to a source with knowledge of decision-making in Beijing.

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