Gregarious and Direct: China’s Web Doorkeeper

When a major Chinese-American Internet conference convenes in Washington on Tuesday, a middle-aged Communist Party propaganda chief will be seated amid a room full of tech industry executives, American officials and web luminaries.

The chief, Lu Wei, might look like the odd man out, but he is certain to command attention. As China’s new Internet czar, he is the doorkeeper for American Internet companies to the lucrative China market, as well as the ambassador of an assertive new policy in which China claims the right to block websites, censor content and track users within its borders.

For the Americans, it may present a tricky balancing act, but for Mr. Lu, it is his moment, and one those who know him expect that he will take full advantage of.

Given to making stolid, jargon-laden speeches, Mr. Lu, 54, could not be more different from the new generation of businessmen who built the cyberspace sector he oversees, and with whom he has come into frequent combat.

But in his rise to become China’s Internet custodian, he has demonstrated a canny awareness of the power of the Internet and social media, while also proving adept at the far older art of manipulating public opinion to benefit the party.

Since taking over the State Internet Information Office in 2013 and becoming the director of a powerful Internet committee headed by President Xi Jinping last May, he has ratcheted up restrictions in what is already the world’s most sophisticated system of online censorship.

Read the Full Article: Source – NY Times

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