China appoints naval commander as new Defence Minister

China on Friday named naval commander General Dong Jun as the new defence minister, two months after the summary dismissal of General Li Shangfu without any explanation.

China’s top legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC), had confirmed Mr. Li’s ouster in October.

Mr. Dong, the commander of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), was appointed as Defence Minister by the NPC Standing Committee, official media here reported.

Mr. Dong, whose age is not known, has served in all major naval divisions in the PLAN.

Before becoming the navy’s top commander in 2021, he served in the Northern Sea Fleet, now a regular player in joint drills with the Russian Navy, the Eastern Sea Fleet, which focuses on potential conflicts with Japan, as well as the Southern Command Theatre, which oversees the South China Sea, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

The appointments for the top defence posts are cleared by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is also the head of the Central Military Commission (CMC) besides being the General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC).

Before Mr. Li, Foreign Minister Qin Gang was also removed without an explanation. Mr. Qin was replaced by Wang Yi as Foreign Minister. Earlier this year Mr. Qin succeeded Wang as the country’s top diplomat.

The fates of both Mr. Li and Mr. Qin are not known.

Mr. Li had disappeared from the public eye in late August and no reason was given for his removal.

Mr. Li, who headed the country’s missile force was the first Chinese defence minister to be placed on a U.S. sanctions list – because of arms sales from Russia – and was the second government minister abruptly removed from his post this year.

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