World Bulletin / News Desk
China reshuffled its top military ranks on Tuesday, weeks before a once-in-a-decade generational leadership change which sources said would see the outgoing air force commander promoted to vice-chairman of the military's top decision-making body.
General Ma Xiaotian, 63, was named air force commander, replacing General Xu Qiliang, 50, state broadcaster CCTV said.
Ma has been one of the secretive military's most visible faces, speaking at forums overseas and leading talks with U.S. defence officials.
The report did not say what would happen to Xu.
But three independent sources with ties to the top leadership and the People's Liberation Army said Xu was tipped to be named one of two vice-chairmen of the powerful Central Military Commission.
The government generally does not comment on elite politics and personnel changes before the official announcement.
Xu's air force background means he can be expected to champion their interests at the centre of power, including the development of China's first indigenous stealth fighter.
Xu is one of eight members of the military commission, which is headed by President Hu Jintao, also the ruling Communist Party's top official.
Hu is widely expected to step down as party chief during a congress which opens on Nov. 8 and as president during the annual session of parliament next March. Anointed successor Vice President Xi Jinping will almost certainly take over both posts.
But sources and analysts are divided over whether Hu will follow in his the footsteps of hi predecessor Jiang Zemin, who hung on to the military chairmanship for two years after stepping down as party chief.
Hu, 69, has not made public his plans for retirement but, unlike in the West where former presidents and prime ministers tend to fade from the public eye, Chinese leaders seek to maintain influence to avoid possible adverse political repercussions down the road and preserve their legacy.
Hu's most noticeable legacy was mending fences with self-ruled democratic Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own, after bilateral ties plunged as a result of menacing Chinese war games in the run-up to the island's landmark direct presidential elections in 1996.
Still, the 2.3 million-strong People's Liberation Army, the world's biggest armed forces, has rattled the region with an ambitious build-up overseen by Hu, including the launch of the country's first aircraft carrier.
There has also been tension between China and Japan over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, as well as between China and various Southeast Asian claimants over the South China Sea.
Turkey's foreign minister - guest of Malaysian hosts - says hopes Turkey will become dialogue partner in near future
Infighting could split the Taliban and threatens tentative peace talks with the Kabul government to end 13 years of war
The killing comes after nationwide protests in July over the lynching of another 13-year-old boy
With an increasing amount of women trying to escaping the violence and poverty in their homeland, many women, including teenagers, are being forced into marriages to avoid being sold into prostitution.
Beijin will limit the number of cars on streets and will close down factories to ensure the air is cleaner for the September 3 military parade.
The military chief commader handed in his resignation over the weekend and tried to smooth concerns, saying the armed forces were stable.
Chinese influence in Africa – political, economic and in terms of 'soft power' – now appears unstoppable, experts say
Japan is one of Washingtons key allies and will investigate the wikileaks claim of US spying on Japan
140 killed over past two weeks in Pakistan and as officials say 800,000 affected by flooding
Active member of Runda Kumpulan Kecil group reportedly killed in 30-minute gunfight in Narathiwat province
Senior commander Umar Lateef was killed and his wife detained during an overnight raid. Punjab province had placed a $20,000 bounty for his capture.
The situation for some 140,000 Rohingya, many of whom are confined to flimsy tent-like cities, is dire as rescuers are unable to reach them.
Egypt has continued its war against the Muslim Brotherhood by sentencing 300 Muslim Brotherhood members for three to ten years in prison
In a joint operation, the US and New Zealand tested weapons which could emulate a 33 ft tsunami as a possible alternative to a nuclear bomb.
Turkish president stops over in Islamabad to meet Pakistani prime minister
Integrated Community Shelter built in Aceh with $420,000 in funding from various parties inside and outside of country