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Chinese Defense Minister Li Changfu Under Investigation: Allegations of Military Equipment Purchase Scrutinized – Reuters Investigation


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Chinese Defense Minister Li Changfu Under Investigation

Chinese authorities are currently investigating Chinese Defense Minister Li Changfu, who has been out of public view for weeks, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Investigation into Military Equipment Purchases

The investigation into Li relates to the purchase of military equipment, according to sources. Details about the specific equipment purchases subject to scrutiny remain unknown.

Senior Officials Also Under Investigation

Eight senior officials from China’s military procurement unit, which Li led from 2017 to 2022, are also under investigation. The investigation is being conducted by the military’s powerful Discipline Inspection Commission.

Allegations and Timing of the Investigation

Based on interviews with sources familiar with Chinese policy, Reuters has conducted a detailed examination of the allegations against Li and the timing of the investigation.

Response from Chinese Authorities

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman stated that she had no knowledge of the situation. The State Council and the Ministry of Defense did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Li himself could not be reached.

US Government’s Perspective

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The US government believes that Li has been placed under investigation, according to US officials. The US State Department did not immediately respond to media reports regarding the investigation for corruption.

Concerns about Li’s Whereabouts

Questions about Li’s whereabouts arose when he failed to attend a defense meeting with Vietnam and when he did not meet with a senior Singaporean military official. These events raised concerns among regional diplomats and social media users.

Changes in Chinese Leadership

The investigation into Li follows the replacement of Foreign Minister Chen Gang and the reorganization of the People’s Liberation Army’s Rocket Force Command. These changes in leadership have raised questions among observers and diplomats about the timing and reasons behind them.

Unusual Notice from the Military Procurement Unit

In July, the Military Procurement Unit issued a notice calling for the “clean up” of the bidding process and urged the public to report violations dating back to when Li was leading the unit.

Zero Tolerance for Corruption

A Defense Ministry spokesman emphasized the military’s “zero tolerance for corruption” and the commitment to investigate and punish cases of corruption.

Lee’s Background and Previous Sanctions

In 2016, Li was appointed deputy commander of the military’s Strategic Support Force and later became the head of the military procurement unit. The United States imposed sanctions on Li in 2018 over the purchase of weapons from Russia’s largest arms exporter, Rosoboronexport.

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