While Xi Jinping asked the Chinese Army for “more effort,” a new mystery arose in his cabinet: the Minister of Defense disappeared

Li Shangfu greets (AP Photo/Vincent Thian) (Vincent Thian/)

The Chinese Defense Minister, Li Shangfucarry more than 10 days without appearing at a public eventwhich sparked multiple speculations about his whereabouts and future, taking into account other cases in which a notable absence in Xi Jinping’s regime was followed by a dismissal or conviction.

His last public appearance was on August 29, when he gave a keynote speech at the Third China-Africa Peace and Security Forum in Beijing.

President Xi’s Cabinet Lineup Now Looks Like an Agatha Christie Novel And then there were none. First Foreign Minister Qin Gang disappears, then the commanders of the Rocket Force, and now Defense Minister Li Shangfu“Rahm Emanuel, United States ambassador to Japan, indicated on social networks. Also, he ironically compared the casualties in the cabinet with the lack of work for young people, which reached record numbers in recent months. “Who is going to win this race for unemployment? “The Chinese youth or Xi’s cabinet?” asked the diplomat.

Speculation increases due to Xi’s recent messages, who participated in an army inspection in the northeast of the country without the presence of the sector minister. In his speech on Friday, he urged efforts to strengthen the education and management of troops. Where was his most relevant interlocutor?

In July, the Chinese military began a investigation into corruption cases related to the acquisition of material dating back more than five years, since October 2017. The period in question does not appear random. Although there are no public details that implicate him in any scandalous case, Li headed the equipment department from September 2017 to 2022.

One of Li Shangfu's last appearances in public: meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, in Moscow, on August 15 (Russian Defense Ministry/Handout via REUTERS)
One of Li Shangfu’s last appearances in public: meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, in Moscow, on August 15 (Russian Defense Ministry/Handout via REUTERS) (RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY/)

An exit through the false door would not be new in China. He sudden degradation system It is becoming a recurring methodology of Xi’s China. These purges rescue a certain nostalgic analogy with those of Mao. Now, those targeted by the Beijing regime disappear for a time before returning to public life or being sentenced for corruption or being miraculously “recovered.”

Without a doubt, the most emblematic cases were those of the former head of Interpol Meng Hongweiand the most recent ones like that of the former president Hu Jintao and that of the now former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Qin Gang.

“Although in some cases it seems that they have used corruption as a political weapon against rivals, and in other cases, there was really unacceptable behavior, it seems that the common element is that in the China of Xi Jinping and his politburo, just as in the days of Mao, there is no quota for freedom of thought or dissent and that Xi manages a broad and sophisticated effort to get rid of his rivals in one way or another,” Robert Evan Ellis, professor at the US Army War College, told Infobae. USA.

Li Shangfu (Reuters)
Li Shangfu (Reuters)

In October 2018, Grace Meng reported to the authorities in Lyon, France – the headquarters city of Interpol – that her husband had disappeared. Meng remained off the public radar for several weeks until Beijing acknowledged that she was in its custody. Two years later he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for corruption. The Tianjin Intermediate People’s Court took it for granted that between 2005 and 2017 the former director of the international organization had used his power as vice minister of Public Security and head of the Coast Guard for his own benefit. Bribes, basically. To avoid a heavier sentence, Meng admitted everything. He only needed to flagellate himself in public.

Hu Jintao, former Chinese president, also suffered from Xi Jinping’s brutal zeal. At the last National Congress of the Communist Party last October, Hu was forcibly removed from the set. The humiliation was notorious and marked the end of one era and the definitive beginning of another. At 79 years old, the former leader began a deeper retirement than he had been experiencing. The public scene will no longer show it. The deepest darkness awaits him until his death. No one knows what his sin was.

But The case that has attracted attention in recent months is that of the now former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Qin Gang.. Fleeting minister who spent a month without his whereabouts being known until it was finally reported that he would be replaced by his former boss, coincidentally the one he replaced, Wang Yi.

Qin Gang, dismissed minister (via Reuters)
Qin Gang, dismissed minister (via Reuters) (POOL/)

There are no charges against him yet, but it will be impossible for his star to shine again. Even his photos were deleted from the official website of the popular ministry. His name does not appear among the “former” ministers either. When the regime wants to make someone disappear, it also seeks to ensure that no traces of their history remain.

Leland Lazarus, associate director of the Jack Gordon Institute at Florida International University and an expert on China, gave an explanation to Infobae: “The fact that a high official like Qin Gang, or a billionaire like Jack Ma can disappear for weeks without any explanation is a symptom of the ‘black box’ of opacity that characterizes the Chinese Communist Party. Especially in the case of Qin Gang, who rose very quickly through the ranks and his sudden fall shows that no one is safe under the power of Xi Jinping.”