China’s former internet czar faces graft probe

This article is more than 12 months old

BEIJING 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 on 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 had rubbed shoulders with the likes of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

He had fiercely defended the country's censorship apparatus after he was appointed in 2013 to supervise controls on online expression as head of the Cyberspace Administration of China.

He is the most prominent figure to fall from grace since President Xi Jinping was given a second five-year term in office at a Communist Party congress last month.

Mr Xi launched a major campaign against corruption when he took office in 2012 and it has brought down 1.5 million officials since then.

At the congress that consolidated his power in October, Mr Xi vowed no let-up to the campaign against corruption, which he called the "greatest threat" to the party.

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 Mr 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 Mr Xi when the president visited the US in 2015.- AFP