As Beijing remains silent, the United States warned that it knows nothing about the whereabouts of China’s defense minister

Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu (AP Photo/Vincent Thian) (Vincent Thian/)

The US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinkensaid this Friday that he knows nothing about the Chinese Minister of Defense, Li Shangfuwho He has been absent from the public sphere for more than two weekswhich has sparked speculation about his whereabouts.

Asked about this at a press conference at the State Department, Blinken avoided commenting on the information published by the Financial Timesaccording to which Washington suspects that Li, who was appointed defense minister in March, would be found under house arrest as a result of an investigation.

“I have nothing to say about it. I do not know the status of the Minister of Defense. These are issues that ultimately correspond to the Chinese Government,” he responded.

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque) (KEVIN LAMARQUE/)

A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, questioned by the news agency AFP This Friday regarding the alleged investigation, he responded that he is “not aware of the aforementioned situation.”

In any case, the secretary said that the United States is “fully prepared” to collaborate with anyone who occupies a position of responsibility in the Chinese Executive.

The last public event at which he was seen Li, sanctioned by Washington since 2018 for purchasing weapons from Russiawas at a China-Africa security forum held on August 29, shortly after he traveled to Moscow and Minsk to meet with senior Russian and Belarusian officials.

Li still appears on the Ministry of Defense website and there are recent mentions of his name on the Asian country’s social networks.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu shakes hands with Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu during a meeting in Moscow on August 15, 2023 (REUTERS)
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu shakes hands with Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu during a meeting in Moscow on August 15, 2023 (REUTERS) (RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY/)

US President Joe Biden has not publicly referred to the issue, which is known two months after a restructuring of the command of the People’s Liberation Army unit in charge of strategic missiles, an area that includes nuclear projectiles. China announced in July that it had appointed a new leadership for this division, without justifying the change, but the media reported a corruption investigation that included its former boss, Li Yuchao, who disappeared from public events for weeks before this restructuring.

The situation is also reminiscent of that of former Foreign Minister Qin Gang, dismissed without explanation last July after disappearing from public life.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) dismissed him without explanation, raising all kinds of speculation about his fall, from health problems to an alleged extramarital affair with a television presenter or a political purge after months of internal struggles within the party.

(With information from AFP and EFE)