Thursday, February 22, 2024

China appoints Donggun as new defense minister to replace ousted Li Shangfu

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He disappeared from public view in late August, but no reason was given.

Li is the first Chinese defense minister to be placed on the US sanctions list for arms sales from Russia, and the second government minister to be abruptly removed from his post this year.

Although Dong is not on the U.S. sanctions list, he will be the first Navy veteran to serve as defense minister.

01:54

China’s Defense Minister Li Shangfu is dismissed without any explanation for the first time in about two months

China’s Defense Minister Li Shangfu is dismissed without any explanation for the first time in about two months

He served in all major naval divisions of the People’s Liberation Army until assuming the position of Commander-in-Chief of the Navy in 2021. He served in the North Sea Fleet and is now a regular in joint training with the Russian Navy. The East Sea Fleet is focused on potential conflict with Japan. The same goes for the Southern Command Theater, which oversees the South China Sea.

Dong led a joint naval exercise between China and Russia in 2016 when he was vice chief of staff of the Navy. State media reported that he repeated similar actions during training with Pakistan in 2020, when he was deputy commander of the Southern Theater Command.

Dong’s appointment comes as the United States and China take steps to resume high-level military-to-military communications. These talks were significantly scaled back after then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August 2022.

The ice was broken last week when the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Charles “CQ” Brown, met with Chinese General Liu Zhenli.

03:12

Xi Jinping and Joe Biden meet on the sidelines of APEC summit to ease tense US-China relations

Xi Jinping and Joe Biden meet on the sidelines of APEC summit to ease tense US-China relations

It was the highest level of communication between the two militaries in more than a year, and the Chinese Defense Ministry said it had resulted in “positive and constructive” results.

Despite repeated requests from the Pentagon, the defense ministers of the two countries have not spoken since November last year.

In the absence of reliable lines of communication, tensions between China and the United States are rising in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait, raising the risk of misunderstandings and escalation.

As part of efforts to ease these tensions, China and the United States agreed in November to restore military communications channels.

China’s People’s Liberation Army praises ‘constructive’ talks with US but criticizes Pentagon budget

The Minister of Defense has less direct authority than ministers of defense in other countries and functions primarily as the public representative of the military.

Command authority belongs to the Central Military Commission, which is chaired by President Xi Jinping.

Also on Friday, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee set the schedule for the annual meeting of the National Assembly and the highest political advisory body.

The National People’s Congress will be held from March 5, the day after the opening of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

The “Two Councils” approve the government’s budget, prepare the government’s annual work plan, and hear policy proposals from the two agencies.

Premier Li Qiang is scheduled to release his first government activity report. He was confirmed to become prime minister in March.



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