Delegates to the 14th National People’s Congress (Parliament) accepted Li Shangfu’s appointment as Minister of Defense of the People’s Republic of China on Sunday. The Xinhua news agency reported this.
As a result of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) 20th Congress in October 2022, Li Shangfu, 65, was named to the CPC Central Committee’s Military Council. During the current session, he joined the reconstituted Central Military Council of the People’s Republic of China, the country’s top state military organisation.
Due to military collaboration with Russia, the US Treasury slapped sanctions against the Directorate of Training and Supply of the Central Military Council of China and its then-head, Li Shangfu, in 2018. This can make military relations between the United States and China somewhat difficult.
According to the US government, Li Shangfu was sanctioned in September 2018 for allegedly approving China’s purchase of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems and 10 Su-35 fighter jets. Specifically, he is forbidden from using the American financial system’s services and visiting the United States. According to Chinese experts, this may strain relations between the two countries’ defence agencies.
Li Shangfu was born in the city of Chengdu in 1958. (the administrative centre of the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan). His father, Li Shaozhu, rose to Deputy Commander of the Railway Troops of the People’s Liberation Army of China (PLA) after fighting in both the Chinese Civil War and the Anti-Japanese War.
Three decades at the spaceport
Li Shangfu attended the PLA Military Science and Technology University from 1978 to 1982. (Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province). He began working as a technical specialist at the Xichang Cosmodrome (southwestern Sichuan) after graduation. Most of Li Shangfu’s career is associated with space; he served at the cosmodrome for 31 years. Li Shangfu was named cosmodrome director in 2003 at 45 and was promoted to major general in 2006.
During his presidency in 2007, the Xichang spaceport participated in anti-satellite weapon testing. A mobile launcher fired a missile from its territory that struck a Chinese meteorological satellite in orbit. At the spaceport, the Chang’e-2 autonomous lunar mission was launched in 2010.
In 2013, Li Shangfu was appointed chief of staff of the PLA’s Main Directorate of Armaments and Military Equipment, responsible for the technical re-equipment of the armed forces and the development of new weapons. In 2014, he was promoted to deputy head of this department.
Li Shangfu was appointed deputy commander and chief of staff of the PLA Strategic Support Forces in 2016, which were established due to a 2015 military reform. In September 2017, he was named chief of the newly founded Armaments Development Bureau of the Central Military Council of the People’s Republic of China. He succeeded Zhang Yuxia, who was named vice chairman of the PLA’s Central Military Council.
As a result of the outcomes of the 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in 2017, Li Shangfu joined the Central Committee and was elevated to the rank of general in 2019.