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China appoints US-sanctioned general Li Shangfu as new defence minister
Beijing: China named Li Shangfu, a US-sanctioned general, as its new Defence Minister on Sunday. Notably, Li has been under US sanctions since 2018 and his appointment comes at a time of increasingly strained relations between Beijing and Washington, reported CNN.
Li Shangfu, an aerospace expert, was voted unanimously by the country's rubber-stamp parliament, the National People's Congress to replace outgoing defence chief Wei Fenghe. Li was sanctioned by the administration of former US President Donald Trump in 2018 for purchasing Russian weapons, including 10 Su-35 combat aircraft and equipment related to the S-400 surface-to-air missile system, reported CNN.
Experts said the appointment would be closely watched by Washington given Li's background, even though the post is viewed as largely diplomatic and ceremonial.
In 2016, Li was named deputy commander of the PLA's then-new Strategic Support Force - an elite body tasked with accelerating the development of China's space and cyber warfare capabilities.
He was then appointed head of the Equipment Development Department of the Central Military Commission (CMC), China's governing defence body, headed by President Xi.
His appointment was one of a series confirmed by China's National People's Congress during its Sunday sitting. Other senior appointments included four new vice premiers - Ding Xuexiang, He Lifeng, Zhang Guoqing, and Liu Guozhong, reported CNN.
Following their nomination by the new premier Li Qiang, all four will serve as vice premiers on the State Council, the body responsible for reviving China's economy after three years of strict zero-Covid restrictions.
The latest appointment is part of a major cabinet reshuffle by Xi Jinping, who was formally given an unprecedented third term as president. (ANI)