A senior People's Liberation Army senior believed to be closely linked to disgraced former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai made a high-profile appearance in Hainan at the weekend, in what analysts said was probably an attempt to dispel rumours that he had been implicated in the nation's biggest political scandal in two decades.
General Liu Yuan, the political commissar of the PLA's General Logistics Department, showed up with Hainan party secretary Luo Baoming on Saturday at the provincial branch of the Beijing-based PLA General Hospital - commonly known as the No 301 Hospital - according to the Beijing-based Science and Technology Daily.
As a rising military star, Liu, 61, has long been regarded as one of the strongest candidates to succeed General Li Jinai, the chief of the PLA's General Political Department, and thereby become a member of the all-powerful Central Military Commission in a major leadership reshuffle later this year.
However, the downfall of Bo in March gave rise to speculation that Liu's possible promotion was up in the air.
Some overseas reports also suggested that Liu was being investigated by the central government, and other reports said his loyalty to the central government was in question after the Bo scandal.
As descendants of Communist Party revolutionary veterans, Liu and Bo are perceived as 'princelings'.
Liu was the son of late president Liu Shaoqi, and Bo was the son of former vice-premier Bo Yibo. Liu Yuan and Bo Xilai have been friends for a long time, and they reportedly spent their schooldays together at the elite Beijing No 4 High School in the 1950s.
Liu's latest public appearance in Sanya seems to further indicate that he may have survived the political turmoil, and that he still has a chance of securing a seat with the military's top decision-making body.
On May 14, Liu, accompanied by Hebei party secretary Zhang Qingli and Governor Zhang Qingwei, visited a medical school in Shijiazhuang , capital of the province that is adjacent to Beijing.
It remains unclear whether Liu's avoidance of any official implications has anything to do with his close relationship with Vice-President Xi Jinping, who is expected to succeed general secretary Hu Jintao and hold the party's top post after the reshuffle this autumn.
Xi is another prominent princeling. His father, Xi Zhongxun, was once vice-premier.
Apart from Liu and party chief Luo, the Science and Technology Daily's report on Sunday added that also visiting the school were Vice-Minister for Health Huang Jiefu, Lieutenant General Wei Liang, Lieutenant General Qin Yinhe and Major General Li Shuzhang, who is the president of the PLA General Hospital.
Under the management of the General Logistics Department, the PLA General Hospital is renowned for treating top party members, such as late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping and the party's former secretary general, Jiang Zemin, as well as for being one of the country's best hospitals in terms of both technological and human resources.