China’s new defense minister was previously sanctioned by US for buying Russian military equipment

Chinese Gen. Li Shangfu, an aerospace engineer and veteran of the People’s Liberation Army, was named as China’s new defense minister on Sunday. 

Li was sanctioned by the US Treasury Department in 2018 when he was director of the Equipment Development Department, which oversees the country’s military technology. 

The State Department said that Li was involved in the purchase of Su-35 combat aircraft and materials for S-400 surface-to-air missiles from a sanctioned Russian company. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who was elected to a third five-year term this week by China’s rubber stamp legislature, called for his country on Wednesday to bolster its military to “world-class standards” and “systematically upgrade the country’s overall strength to cope with strategic risks.”

Chinese military spending is increasing 7.2% this year to $230 billion. 

Four Republican chairman of House committees issued a joint statement on Friday citing the military build-up by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as one of the gravest threats to US national security. 

“It is evident from this threat assessment that the tactics the CCP uses to accomplish its goals have not worked entirely in its favor, leaving our nation at a tipping point. The CCP must not be underestimated, but the U.S. can still triumph in a peer-to-peer competition with the CCP if our government acts in a swift and unified manner,” the congressmen wrote. 

Their warning came days after Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Qin Gang said that his country is heading for “conflict and confrontation” with the US. 

“If the United States does not hit the brake — but continues to speed down the wrong path — no amount of guardrails can prevent derailing and there will surely be conflict and confrontation and who will bear the catastrophic consequences?” Qin said at his first press conference on Tuesday. 

“Such competition is a reckless gamble, with the stakes being the fundamental interests of the two peoples and even the future of humanity.”

Fox News Digital’s Brandon Gillespie and Timothy Nerozzi contributed to this report, as well as Reuters.