But where did Li Shangfu go? The Chinese defense minister has “not been seen or heard from for three weeks,” according to Rahm Emanuel, the American ambassador to Japan, reports the British daily Financial Times. This mysterious disappearance comes less than two months after that of Qin Gang, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, who disappeared for a month without official reason.

Li Shangfu has reportedly been removed from his position and is under investigation by authorities, according to US officials. However, he held a position of responsibility within the Chinese regime. At 65, this former aerospace engineer was, in addition to his position at the Ministry of Defense which he had held since March 2023, a member of the Central Military Commission, the highest military body in the country.

In mid-August, he also appeared in public during two visits, to Russia and Belarus.

On his X account (formerly Twitter), the United States Ambassador to Japan initially alerted him to his disappearance on Friday September 8. Then, a week later, he posted a message again, mentioning three elements leaving room for doubt.

“First: Defense Minister Li Shangfu has not been seen or heard from for three weeks,” confirms Rahm Emanuel. “Second: he did not show up for his trip to Vietnam,” the American ambassador continued, referring to statements by Vietnamese officials who had indicated a postponement of the meeting due to “health problems” of Li Shangfu . “Today: He is absent from his scheduled meeting with the head of the Singapore Navy because he has been placed under house arrest,” he finishes.

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…

Three other American officials as well as two people linked to the intelligence services, cited by the Financial Times, confirm these statements and agree on the fact that the now ex-Minister of Defense had been “removed from his functions”.

The British daily also learned, via American officials, that Li Shangfu is currently the subject of an investigation for corruption, which could be linked to the position he previously held. From September 2017 to October 2022, he headed the People’s Liberation Army unit and was in charge of long-range missiles, including nuclear missiles. This department is renowned for harboring the “worst corruption” in the Chinese military, according to Dennis Wilder, the former CIA expert, cited by the Financial Times.