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China Removes Li Shangfu As Defence Minister Without Explanation

Li Shangfu, 65, is also the public face of the People’s Liberation Army, and a member of the Central Military Commission – the PLA’s ruling body.

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Chinese President XI Jinping
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China removed Li Shangfu from his position as defence minister and state councillor in the country’s second leadership shake-up in three months. 

The reports said the country's top lawmakers- Standing Committee of the National People's Congress- also voted to remove former foreign minister Qin Gang from his position as state councilor. 

The committee appointed Yin Hejun as China's science and technology minister and Lan Foan as finance minister.

State news agency Xinhua reported that Li Shangfu had been removed, without explanation after weeks of speculation over the fate of the US-sanctioned general, who has not been seen in public since August.

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Li Shangfu is the second minister to be abruptly removed since Xi Jinping began his unprecedented third term last October. 
Qin Gang was replaced as foreign minister in July by his predecessor Wang Yi, after a similar unexplained withdrawal from public engagements.

The announcement came just days before a Pentagon delegation is due to arrive in Beijing for a regional security forum.

Li Shangfu, 65, is also the public face of the People’s Liberation Army, and a member of the Central Military Commission – the PLA’s ruling body. Within the body, Li Shangfu ranks only behind its chairman, Xi Jinping, and vice-chairmen Zhang Youxia and He Weidong.

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Li Shangfu is under US sanctions related to his overseeing weapon purchases from Russia that bar him from entering the country. China has since cut off contacts with the US military, mainly in protest over Washington's arm sales to Taiwan.

Xi Jinping earlier also set a target for the PLA to become a world-leading fighting force by 2049. No replacement for Li Shangfu has been announced.
 

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