POLITICAL intrigue within the PLA has intensified as disgraced military strongman General Yang Baibing has appealed to the leadership to clear his name. Sources in the People's Liberation Army said yesterday General Yang, who lost all his military positions in late 1992, had earlier this year written to patriarch Deng Xiaoping and others to restore his reputation. In the appeal, General Yang, a half-brother of former state president Yang Shangkun, said he had been the victim of a vendetta. The former chief army political commissar, who remains a member of the ruling Politburo, said he wanted punishment for his accusers, who reportedly include vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), General Zhang Zhen. The sources said that in October 1992, Mr Deng decided to dump General Yang partly because he believed he conspired to undermine the authority of himself and President Jiang Zemin, also CMC chairman. 'Yang Baibing was said to be guilty of 10 offences, which included forming his own clique and holding a series of 'black meetings' to make preparations for the post-Deng era,' a source said. He was also accused of building his own 'personality cult' and having an 'improper lifestyle'. But General Yang challenged the CMC and the Politburo to come up with solid evidence. He said if the accusations could not be substantiated, his reputation should be restored. Sources said, however, that it was unlikely that Mr Deng and Mr Jiang would grant the General's wishes. They said even though no conclusive evidence could be cited, the two suspected General Yang of overall 'empire-building'. Mr Deng recently instructed that the affair be treated in a 'soft and cool manner', meaning that his appeal should be played down to avoid affecting senior officers' morale. Frustrated, General Yang went to his native Sichuan province in the autumn, missing most of the activities surrounding the Fourth Central Committee Plenum and National Day. Western diplomats said Mr Jiang wanted to further sideline the Yang brothers because of their residual influence in the PLA. They said Mr Jiang was also disturbed by the fact that relations between Mr Deng and former president Yang had mended since the two fell out over the demotion of General Yang. A long-time secretary-general of the CMC and confidant of Mr Deng, Mr Yang has deep roots in the PLA. He also played a key role in pushing Mr Deng's reforms in 1991 and 1992. He is expected to pose a challenge to Mr Jiang once Mr Deng dies. Since the spring, Mr Yang has toured the provinces, in the process giving his support to reformist cadres in the regions.