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A rising star in the Chinese military hierarchy may get a top appointment.

Liu Huaqing, one of four Army deputy chiefs of staff, may become chief of staff later this year. He would succeed 72-year-old Yang Dezhi as the process of modernization initiated by Deng Xiaoping reaches into the Peoples Liberation Army ranks.

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Liu has up-to-date credentials. He has served both in the navy and in the academy of sciences, and has visited the United States, Britain, and other Western countries.

His grasp of the scientific and technological requirements of a modern army contrasts sharply with the reliance on guerrilla and human wave tactics typical of Deng's own generation.

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