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Mystery in Beijing building: US Envoy Cites Shakespeare To Target China Over 'missing' Defence Minister Li Shangfu

US envoy to Japan raised questions over the disappearance of Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu, in a scathing attack, he pointed fingers at Xi Jinping.

| Written By
Bhagyasree Sengupta
ChinaChinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu (Image: AP)

Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu (Image: AP)

As the mystery of the sudden disappearance of Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu continues to remain uncovered, the US pointed fingers at the Xi Jinping administration. Citing English playwright and poet William Shakespeare and writer Agatha Christie, US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel raised questions over the absence of the Chinese defence minister. 

For the past two weeks, the Chinese official who was touted as one of the closest aides to President Xi Jinping has been away from the public light, sparking speculations. Li’s absence came months after the sudden disappearance and removal of former Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang. 

In a scathing tweet, Emanuel asked multiple questions, including whether the Chinese Defence Minister has been placed under “house arrest”. He even pointed out the sudden disappearance of Qin Gang, the Rocket Force commander who was removed by Xi Jinping last month. The US official went on to quote Shakespeare to put forward his case. 

“As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” 1st: Defense Minister Li Shangfu hasn’t been seen or heard from in 3 weeks. 2nd: He was a no-show for his trip to Vietnam. Now: He’s absent from his scheduled meeting with the Singaporean Chief of Navy because he was placed on house arrest???... Might be getting crowded in there,”  Emanuel wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Good news is I heard he’s paid off his mortgage with the Country Garden real estate developers. #MysteryInBeijingBuilding,” he added. 

The US official has been extremely vocal about the situation, calling the recent firing an “unemployment race” between the Xi Jinping Cabinet and the common people of China. “President Xi's cabinet lineup is now resembling Agatha Christie's novel And Then There Were None. First, Foreign Minister Qin Gang goes missing, then the Rocket Force commanders go missing, and now Defense Minister Li Shangfu hasn't been seen in public for two weeks,” Emanuel wrote on X. “Who's going to win this unemployment race? China’s youth or Xi's cabinet?  #MysteryInBeijingBuilding,” he asked. 

Xi’s loyal minister: The story of Li Shangfu

According to the Chinese Defence Minister's website, Li Shangfu was born in February 1958 in Xingguo, Jiangxi Province, China. He joined the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in August 1982 and the Communist Party of China (CPC) in June 1980. Holding the ranks of general in the PLA Army, Shangfu was a member of the 20th CPC Central Committee, a member of the CPC Central Military Commission, a member of the Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of China, a State Councilor, a member of the Leading Party Members' Group of the State Council, and Defense Minister.

Throughout his rise to the higher ranks, Li was touted as a loyal ally to Chinese President Xi Jinping. He was one of five State Councillors, which is one of the cabinet positions that rank higher than regular ministers. In 2018, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Li related to China's procurement of Russian weapons. Li stirred major headlines in August this year when he attended a security conference in Russia, where he unleashed a scathing attack against the US and “separatist groups” operating in Taiwan. On August 29, Li delivered a keynote address at the Africa Peace and Security Forum which was held in Beijing. 

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