Beijing: Ending months of speculation, China has named former naval commander Dong Jun as its new defence minister, two months after removing his predecessor Li Shangfu from the role, CNN reported on Friday.

Notably, Li was removed "without explanation" after a prolonged absence from public view.

The top body of China's "rubber-stamp" legislature announced Dong's appointment, following their final session for the year, Chinese state media Xinhua reported.

The new minister Dong, became the top commander of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in 2021. Earlier on Monday, former submarine commander Hu Zhongming was named in that role during a ceremony promoting him to admiral, CNN reported.

Before taking over top command of the navy, Dong was the deputy commander of the PLA's Southern Theatre Command, which oversees operations in the South China Sea.

Dong had served as the top commander of the Chinese Navy since 2021. His appointment ends months of speculation over when Beijing would fill the role left vacant after the same political body approved Li's removal in October, according to CNN.

Li, who was appointed defense minister in March, has not been seen in public since late August, fueling intense speculation about his fate.

His disappearance and subsequent removal followed a series of unexplained personnel shakeups that have roiled the country's upper ranks, including the dramatic ousting of former Foreign Minister Qin Gang in July and the removal of two leaders from the PLA's Rocket Force, all without explanation.

Weeks before Li vanished from public view, Xi convened the military's top brass in Beijing for a meeting, where he emphasised political loyalty, discipline and the party's "absolute leadership" over the armed forces, CNN reported.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government has repeatedly declined to comment on Li's whereabouts and the reasons behind his absence. Friday's announcement did not provide further details besides announcing Dong's appointment.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Li was taken away in September by authorities for questioning, citing a person close to decision-making in Beijing.

In China, the defence minister is a largely ceremonial role, serving as the public face of military diplomacy with other countries. Unlike the US defence secretary and other international equivalents, the Chinese defence minister does not have command power, which resides with the Central Military Commission, CNN reported.