New Delhi, March 12
China’s National People’s Congress has appointed Li Shangfu, a US-sanctioned army general, as its new Defence Minister. General Li was recently inducted in China’s powerful Central Military Commission (CMC). The first soldier from the ‘Strategic Support Force’ to join the CMC, General Li has contributed to critical advancements in Chinese aerospace defence technology, including the first lunar probe and the first anti-satellite missile test.
About gen Li Shangfu
- Has contributed to critical advancements in Chinese aerospace defence technology, including the 1st lunar probe and first anti-satellite missile test
- Sanctioned by US in 2018 for purchase of Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets, S-400 surface-to-air missiles
- Banned from transactions with US financial system
Reportedly a family friend of Xi, he succeeds Gen Wei Fenghe. General Li, an aerospace engineer with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), was sanctioned by the US in 2018 for the purchase of Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 surface-to-air missiles. Besides a visa ban, he has been prohibited from transactions with the US financial system.
“Like Wei Fenghe, who also rose within the PLA under Xi’s tenure, General Li will continue to be a steward of China’s defence modernisation programmes, which have received sustained and continuous support of Chinese leaders from Jiang Zemin to Xi Jinping. Moreover, as the highest-ranking state councillor and a CMC member, he will enjoy direct access to Xi and serve as his key adviser,’’ the Diplomat magazine said.
“It also signals to the world that, against the backdrop of increasingly intensified China-US technological competition, China will continue to prioritise aerospace in its defence modernisation agenda during Xi’s third term and beyond,’’ it added.
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