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China's new internet chief set to maintain tight grip on web

China's most senior internet regulator has stepped down, his replacement set to maintain course. Lu Wei headed the party's attempts to decide what ordinary Chinese can and cannot read during his three-year tenure.

Named as one of the world's 100 most influential people in 2015 by "Time" magazine, Lu Wei was in charge of supervising controls on online expression since taking over as head of the Cyberspace Administration of China in 2013.

Under Lu's watch, China has been codifying a series of cybersecurity and national security laws that gives the government legal powers to control online content and speech.

Chinese authorities censor online content they deem politically sensitive and also block various Western media websites and social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google.

What next?

Lu will be succeeded by Xu Lin, a deputy from the same department, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing an official statement but providing no further details.

Xu joined the department in 2015 and had previously served two years as the minister of propaganda for Shanghai.

Lu, a powerful figure who drew the attention of global technology firms seeking a slice of China's massive market, retains his position as deputy head of the Central Publicity Department. It is unclear if he will pick up any additional roles.

China low in internet rankings

A report by the American pro-democracy think tank Freedom House in 2015 found that China had the most restrictive internet policies of 65 countries studied, below Iran and Syria.

jbh/kl (AFP, AP)

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