(CTN News) – China has named Dong Jun as its new defence minister, two months after his predecessor was officially sacked.
Dong Jun, a former navy commander, takes over from Li Shangfu – who was last seen in public in August.
China’s top legislators announced Dong Jun’s appointment at a Standing Committee meeting of the National People’s Congress in Beijing on Friday.
The move follows a slew of dismissals of top military officials from the country’s top posts earlier this year.
As well as Mr Li, it included the removal of Qin Gang as foreign minister in July. No reasons were given for Mr Li or Mr Qin’s dismissals. Both had been in their posts for only seven months, respectively.
Reuters reported that further sackings took place this week, with nine senior military officials removed from the Standing Committee on Friday, citing state media outlet Xinhua.
According to state media, three executives at state-owned missile defence firms were also removed from Beijing’s top political advisory body earlier this week.
Some analysts say this could indicate a wider purge targeting senior military leaders.
Dong Jun, 62, was made commander of the navy in August 2021.
His previous roles included serving as deputy commander of the Chinese military’s Southern Theatre Command. Its area of operations includes the South China Sea – a disputed area over large parts of which China claims sovereignty.
Dong Jun’s appointment comes after military personnel from China and the US held their first high-level talks by phone in over a year last week.
Relations between the two nations soured in 2022 after the then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan. Taiwan is self-ruled, but China sees it as a breakaway province that will eventually unite with it.
In recent months, there has been a rapprochement between China and the US, with Chinese President Xi Jinping meeting his counterpart Joe Biden in California in November and agreeing to resume military communications. The two had not spoken for more than a year.