The US government is aware that Chinese Defense Minister Li Changfu is under investigation by Beijing authorities and has been removed from his post, according to the British Financial Times.
The post, which cites three US officials, comes hours after US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said on social media that the minister “has not been seen or heard from in three weeks.”
Li Shangfu went to Russia and then to Belarus in mid-August.
In response to a question from AFP on Friday about a possible investigation targeting the defense minister, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman replied that they were “not aware of the situation you mentioned.”
The White House has not discussed the issue publicly.
American doubts about his ouster come two months after a cabinet reshuffle at the head of the People’s Liberation Army unit responsible for strategic missiles, especially nuclear ones.
In July, China announced that it would provide this unit with new management without justifying this change, while media reported about a corruption investigation involving its former president, who had not appeared in public for weeks.
Beijing also formalized in July the replacement of Chen Gang as foreign minister, without providing an explanation, after he disappeared for a month from the public arena.
He was replaced by his predecessor, Wang Yi.
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