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China names new defense minister, replacing former official who disappeared

Byusanewscart.com

Dec 29, 2023

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The People’s Republic of China announced the appointment of a new defense minister on Friday, filling the gap left by his predecessor’s termination. 

Former naval commander Dong Jun was selected for the position, which is generally a ceremonial role. 

Unlike in most countries, the defense minister of China is not in command of the nation’s armed forces, the People’s Liberation Army. 

Instead, Dong is stepping into an office more focused on diplomatic responsibilities.

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Chinese Military

Chinese honour guards prepare for a gun salute during a burial ceremony for the remains of 25 Chinese soldiers who died during the Korean War (1950-53) at the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army Martyrs’ Cemetery in Shenyang, Liaoning Province of China. (Chen Hongbo/VCG via Getty Images)

The ministry of defense office has been vacant for months after the mysterious termination and disappearance of the previous occupant, Li Shangfu. 

Li was last seen on August 29 in Beijing, where he delivered an address at the China-Africa Peace and Security Forum.

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Li Shangfu

China’s former Defence Minister Li Shangfu addresses a speech during the Moscow Conference on International Security in Kubinka, on the outskirts of Moscow, on Aug. 15, 2023.  (Alexander NEMENOV / AFP) (Photo by ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Li’s disappearance is believed to be part of a larger upheaval of military officials, financial advisers and diplomats. 

Foreign Minister Qin Gang was among the highest-ranking and most public figures to have been removed from office around the same time. 

In a July announcement, Chinese state media gave no reason for Qin’s removal. The move comes after he dropped out of sight almost one month ago amid speculation over his personal affairs and political rivalries, according to the Associated Press. 

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 Chinese President Xi Jinping reviews the honour guard during a welcome ceremony at The Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China.  (Florence Lo – Pool/Getty Images)

The reason for the conspicuous terminations is the source of significant speculation among foreign analysts.

Corruption and insufficient displays of loyalty to President Xi Jinping are among the most accepted explanations, but the Chinese Communist Party’s fierce internal secrecy has kept the matter opaque to outside observers.

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