China's former internet czar faces graft probe

By AFP   November 21, 2017 | 06:02 pm PT
China's former internet czar faces graft probe
China's former internet czar Lu Wei. Photo by Reuters
He was once named among the world's 100 most influential people.

China's former internet czar, who oversaw a tightening of online censorship during his tenure, has become the latest top Communist Party figure to be ensnared in the country's anti-corruption drive.

The party's anti-graft agency said in a brief statement on its website late Tuesday that Lu Wei, 57, was being investigated for suspected "severe disciplinary violations".

Lu, who had stepped down from his post last year, was once named among the world's 100 most influential people by Time magazine and once rubbed shoulders with the likes of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

He had been in charge of supervising controls on online expression after taking over as head of the Cyberspace Administration of China in 2013.

President Xi Jinping launched a major campaign against corruption when he took office in 2012 that has brought down 1.5 million officials since then.

As he accepted a second term at a Communist Party congress that consolidated his power last month, Xi warned officials that the campaign against the "greatest threat" to the party would intensify.

Lu was a powerful figure both at home and abroad, where he commanded the attention of global technology firms eager for a piece of the Chinese market.

He was personally received by Zuckerberg in 2014 at Facebook's Silicon Valley headquarters, and appeared in the front row of a group photo alongside top executives from American tech giants such as Amazon and Xi when the president visited the U.S. in 2015.

Facebook is among a slew of Western websites, along with Twitter, Instagram and several news outlets, that are blocked by China's "Great Firewall" of internet censorship.

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