A Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman said Thursday that he was not aware of the situation. This was the first public comment on the minister’s disappearance from public spaces in about a month.
Col. Wu Qian, who heads the ministry’s information office, gave a onesentence answer to a question at the monthly news conference about whether Li Shangfu was being investigated for corruption and whether he was still defense minister.
“I am not aware of the situation you are referring to,” Wu said in response to a question from a journalist from a foreign media outlet.
The minister was sworn in as defense minister when the new government took office in March and has not been seen in public since his speech on August 29.
Li Shangfu is the second senior ruler to disappear this year, after former foreign minister Qin Gang, who was fired in July.
The Chinese government gave no reason for his removal or why the two no longer appeared in public.
Disappearances of executives and others without cause are common in China and often occur months after the individuals have been prosecuted.