Beijing’s appointed a new head to its powerful internet regulator. Xu Lin has publicly vowed to maintain the ruling Communist Party’s tight grip over cyberspace. From Shanghai, Eve Johnson reports some say this move could give Xi Jinping more direct control over the web in China.
“Xu Lin is seen by some as a protégé of Chinese president Xi Jinping. It’s really hard to know if this is actually fact. Often in Chinese politics these types are quite opaque and this official is not that well-known before being elevated into this job. The Eurasia Group actually believes that this is move that will strengthen Xi Jinping’s direct control over cyberspace, over the administration of cyberspace in China”, John Ruwitch, acting bureau chief, said.
Analysts say Xu’s appointment may not be good news for foreign companies.
The government blocks sites seen as a challenge to Communist Party rule or a threat to stability, like Twitter, Facebook or Gmail. A legacy of strict controls left by outgoing internet tsar Lu Wei.
“Some observers have called Lu Wei a hardliner. He has been a major defender of China’s effort to further control over the internet, to censor the internet, to keep quote unquote bad influences out. He has also been a big driver of Beijing’s concept of internet control, in qhich according to him you can have freedom but only with tight controls. With that he’s promoted this idea abroad and really raised Beijing’s efforts to play a bigger role in the global management of internet.”
State media issued a brief report on the news. But gave no information why Lu Wei is leaving or where he may be headed next.