China Appoints US-Sanctioned General As Defense Minister
- The Diplomat magazine says that Li's rise shows how much China's space industry has grown since Xi Jinping became president in 2012.
- Li will continue to be in charge of China's defence modernization programmes, which have been supported by every Chinese leader from Jiang Zemin to Xi Jinping.
China chose a US-banned army general as its new Defense Minister on Sunday, showing that Washington’s ban on its military personnel doesn’t bother it much.
Gen. Li Shangfu is a Chinese aerospace engineer and General of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). In 2018, the US put sanctions on him because China’s Equipment Development Department (EDD) bought Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 surface-to-air missiles, which was against US sanctions on Russia.
China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress, gave Gen Li the go-ahead to be the new Defense Minister on Sunday (CPC). He’ll take over from Gen Wei Fenghe.
Gen Li was named along with a new group of cabinet ministers for different ministries. This is done every 10 years to keep the Chinese government fresh.
Gen. Li was made a member of the Central Military Commission (CMC) on Saturday. This is the top military command in China, led by President Xi Jinping.
In its 2022 China Military Report, the US Department of Defense called Gen. Li the general officer who gives Xi “technical expertise on military modernization and space issues.”
The Diplomat magazine says that Li’s rise shows how much China’s space industry has grown since Xi Jinping became president in 2012.
“It also shows the world that, despite the fact that China and the US are getting more and more competitive in technology, China will continue to put aerospace at the top of its defence modernization agenda during Xi’s third term and beyond,” the report said.
“General Li Shangfu’s appointment shows that the PLA’s top leadership is more stable than it is changing. Li will continue to be in charge of China’s defence modernization programmes, which have been supported by every Chinese leader from Jiang Zemin to Xi Jinping. He will follow in the footsteps of Wei Fenghe, who also rose in the PLA during Xi’s time in power. Also, as the state councillor with the most power and a member of the CMC, Li will be able to talk to Xi directly and will be his most important military advisor,” the report said.