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China reportedly ousts defense minister after two-month absence

China’s former Minister of National Defense Li Shangfu salutes the audience on June 4, 2023.

Roslan Rahman | Afp | Getty Images

The Chinese government removed General Li Shangfu from the post of defense minister and state councilor without appointing a replacement, state media CCTV reported Tuesday.

His dismissal was announced was announced through an order of China’s legislative body, the National People’s Congress.

Li, who was appointed to lead China’s defense ministry during a broader cabinet reshuffle in March, has not been seen in public for the past two months, according to Reuters. Reuters also reported that Li, 65, faced a corruption probe over the procurement of military equipment — which CNBC could not independently confirm.

Li is the second high-profile minister from Xi Jinping’s administration to be silently removed amid a storm of speculation. In July, Qin Gang — who was also stripped of his authority as state councilor on Tuesday — was dismissed from his role as foreign minister after a one-month absence.

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