BEIJING: The most openly ambitious general in the People's Liberation Army appears to have been sidelined following his self-styled ''do-or-die'' fight against corruption in military ranks.
General Liu Yuan, after missing out on promotion to the Central Military Commission, was also absent from the ranks of 250 party and military luminaries who appeared on stage for Thursday's opening of the 18th Party Congress, which marked the start of an eight-day leadership transition.
Power shifts in China
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Power shifts in China
Two thousand delegates of the Chinese Communist Party are gathering to choose a new generation of leaders.
Supporters of General Liu, the son of the former president Liu Shaoqi, had expected him to receive a powerful leadership role in part because of his life-long ties to the incoming president, Xi Jinping.
General Liu's sidelining, if confirmed, will mark the second fall from grace of an ambitious and powerful princeling this year.
Bo Xilai, a close family friend of Liu's, has been expelled from the Communist Party and is expected to face serious charges after his wife was convicted of murdering the Englishman Neil Heywood. Several other close princeling associates of Bo, however, retained their places on the ''praesidium''.
These include General Zhang Haiyang - also a political commissar and member of the 204-member Central Committee - who was implicated in a scandal involving corruption and abuse of power in Bo's Chongqing.
Liu, like Bo, upset power brokers by speaking boldly about problems in domestic politics and taking unconventional moves against corruption, as first reported in Fairfax Media.
In particular, Liu stepped around the military hierarchy and trampled over the hidden rules of patronage to dislodge a notoriously corrupt general, Gu Junshan. General Gu was deputy director of the People's Liberation Army logistics department, where General Liu was political commissar, and is now under investigation.
General Gu was known to be close to the outgoing vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, Xu Caihou, who in turn was a protege of former president Jiang Zemin.
Some sources speculate that General Liu has reached the end of his military career and he may be appointed to another position next year, perhaps as vice-chairman of the People's Political Consultative Conference.
Liu Yuan's lonely anti-corruption campaign earned rare public plaudits from other military officials including Liu Mingfu, Professor at the PLA National Defence University in Beijing.
He said Liu Yuan deserves support for fighting corruption and that he had only succeeded in removing Gu Junshan because of his princeling prestige.
On Thursday, the outgoing party head, Hu Jintao, warned that rampant corruption ''could prove fatal to the party and even cause the collapse of the party and the fall of the state''.