China’s Top Internet Regulator Said Planning to Step Aside

  • Cyberspace director Lu Wei says deputy Xu Lin to succeed him
  • Central post in President Xi’s effort to rein in internet

Lu Wei.

Photographer: VCG via Getty Images

China’s top web regulator announced he plans to to step aside, a person with knowledge of the situation said, signaling a power shift at an agency central to President Xi Jinping’s effort to control content available to the world’s largest internet audience.

Lu Wei, director of the Cyberspace Administration of China, told a meeting Tuesday that deputy Xu Lin would soon replace him, according to the person, who asked not to be identified discussing internal agency affairs. Lu, who also serves as office director for Xi’s central group on cyberspace policy, didn’t say when he’d leave the agency post or what he expected to do next, the person said.

The Cyberspace Administration has become a key force shaping China’s internet landscape in the two years since Xi established it, churning out regulations to curb public criticism and other perceived threats to the government. Lu has been among the most visible advocates for those policies, meeting with global tech executives such as Facebook Inc.’s Mark Zuckerberg and giving speeches defending China’s internet controls as "management.”

The Cyberspace Administration didn’t immediately respond on Wednesday to a faxed request for comment.

Xu, whose appointment in June last year made him the the youngest member of the agency’s leadership circle, has been identified as an official who could be headed for further promotion. The former Shanghai propaganda chief worked briefly with Xi during the president’s half-year stint as Shanghai party boss in 2007.

Lu, who’s also vice minister of propaganda, didn’t discuss his other posts, the person said.

— With assistance by Ken Wills

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