China’s Defense Minister, Li Shangfu, has raised concerns as he has not made any public appearances for several weeks, prompting speculations regarding his whereabouts. This comes after the recent disappearance of former Foreign Minister Qin Gang and the vanishing of the general in charge of China’s rocket force.
Amid growing suspicions, China officially announced the appointment of Wang Yi as the new Foreign Minister, succeeding Qin Gang, whose sudden disappearance raised eyebrows.
The unusual circumstances surrounding these disappearances have not gone unnoticed by international figures. American Ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel, took to social media on September 8 to express his concerns. He likened the situation to Agatha Christie’s novel “And Then There Were None,” suggesting that President Xi’s cabinet is shrinking as key officials vanish. Emanuel posed the question of who will win the “unemployment race” in China—its youth or President Xi’s cabinet.
See X post of Rahm Emanuel
Reports from international media outlets have further fueled speculation. According to these reports, Defense Minister Li Shangfu has not been seen in public since August 29, 2023. Notably, Li Shangfu was under investigation for corruption-related charges in 2017. His last public appearance was at the China-Africa Peace and Security Forum. Prior to that, he had attended a Security Forum in Russia, during which he criticized the United States for its use of Taiwan to encircle China, cautioning that such actions were akin to playing with fire.
While Defense Minister Li Shangfu remains missing, Chinese President Xi Jinping has issued instructions to maintain unity and stability within the country’s military. Furthermore, President Xi has emphasized the readiness of the armed forces for potential conflict.
Li Shangfu comes from a distinguished military background, with his father, Li Shaoju, having served as a Red Army officer during the struggle against Japan in the 1930s and 1940s. Li Shaoju played a pivotal role in the reconstruction of logistic railways during the Civil War and the subsequent Korean War. He later served as the Commander of the People’s Liberation Army’s Strategic Railway Force in the Tibet and Yunnan border regions during the 1950s and 1970s.