China removes defence minister, ousts ex-foreign minister from cabinet

Newly-elected Chinese state councilor Qin Gang (L) and state councilor Li Shangfu (R) swear an oath with state councilor and secretary-general of the State Council Wu Zhenglong (C) after they were elected during the fifth plenary session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on 12 March, 2023

China on Tuesday removed defence minister Li Shangfu and ousted former foreign minister Qin Gang from its cabinet, state media reported, as part of a major reshuffle of its top leadership.

"According to the sixth meeting of the standing committee of the People's Republic of China's 14th National People's Congress, it was decided on 24 October, 2023... to remove Li Shangfu from the positions of State Council member and Minister of Defence," state broadcaster CCTV said.

The committee also "removed Qin Gang's position of State Councillor", CCTV said in its regular evening news bulletin.

CCTV did not name a replacement for Li, who has not been seen in public for months, and did not give reasons for the ministers' removal.

Science and technology minister Wang Zhigang and finance minister Liu Kun were also removed from their posts, to be replaced by current Ministry of Science and Technology party secretary Yin Hejun and finance ministry party secretary Lan Fo'an respectively, according to CCTV.

Tuesday's announcements come after months of speculation about China's cabinet, after Qin was abruptly removed from office without any explanation in July.

Later that month China announced that former navy commander Wang Houbin would take over as the new head of the Chinese military's Rocket Force, as media reports emerged of a corruption probe.