Defense Chief Not Held, China Says

From Reuters

China’s Defense Ministry on Friday denied a Western report that Defense Minister Qin Jiwei had been detained by troops loyal to the president.

“It’s pure rumor-mongering,” a ministry official said when asked to comment on the report from Hong Kong by a Western news agency.

The agency said that Qin was seized at his Beijing residence Wednesday evening as a result of a struggle with President Yang Shangkun for control over China’s military. It also said three regional military commanders were similarly detained in Beijing.

Western diplomats did not rule out the possibility that Qin is in political trouble because he was widely believed to have opposed the imposition of martial law in Beijing on May 20 during pro-democracy demonstrations.

“If he had been arrested I would have expected more military movements. We’ve not seen that. Qin had a lot of support in the army,” one diplomat commented.