BBC Online : A top US diplomat has questioned the absence of China’s defence minister Li Shangfu, renewing speculation of a possible corruption purge.
General Li has been not seen in public for about two weeks and has reportedly missed several meetings. Rahm Emanuel, the US envoy to Japan, speculated on Mr Li’s absence, tweeting that the “unemployment rate” in the Chinese government was very high.
Mr Li’s absence follows recent axings of several top military officials.
Citing sources in the US and China, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Mr Li is being removed from his post.
It also comes months after foreign minister Qin Gang disappeared from public view. Mr Qin’s sudden absence and replacement in July has still not been fully explained.
In Gen Li’s case too, the Chinese government has not said much.
When asked about it earlier this week, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman had reportedly said she was “not aware of the situation”.
Gen Li’s last public appearance was three weeks ago – on 29 August – in Beijing at a security forum with African nations. It is not unusual for defence ministers to be absent from the public view for a few weeks.