UK media: US believes China defense minister sidelined, put under investigation

A British newspaper says the United States believes China's defense minister has been sidelined and placed under investigation.

Li Shangfu has not been seen in public for about two weeks since he delivered a speech at the China-Africa Peace and Security Forum in Beijing on August 29.

The Financial Times reported on Thursday that several US officials and other informed sources said the US concluded that Li had been stripped of his responsibilities and placed under investigation.

The paper added that the sources did not say why the administration of US President Biden concluded that Li is being investigated.

Li was appointed defense minister in March. He had been in charge of China's manned space flight project and weapons procurement for the country's military.

In July, former Foreign Minister Qin Gang was removed from his post about 6 months after being appointed. His whereabouts had not been reported for one month.

Several senior military officials rumored to be guilty of corruption have also been removed, raising speculation that Li is being investigated.