Another one bites the dust


Lu Wei, a propaganda officer for China’s Communist Party who in recent years personified its effort to shape the global internet, on Tuesday became the first major political figure to come under corruption scrutiny since President Xi Jinping’s second term began last month. Mr. Lu, a former director of China’s top internet regulator, is being investigated for alleged “serious violations of discipline,” the party’s disciplinary agency said in a one-sentence statement, using a common party euphemism to describe corruption. Mr. Lu couldn’t be reached for comment and it wasn’t clear whether he has legal representation. The 57-year-old’s political career has been under a cloud since he was removed as director of the Cyberspace Administration of China in June 2016, though he has retained his title as a vice minister at the party’s propaganda department.

The state news agency served as a launchpad for Mr. Lu, whose first political post was as a Beijing vice mayor in charge of propaganda. In 2013, after Mr. Xi came to power, Mr. Lu was put in charge of civilian internet policy, first at the State Council and then at the new Cyberspace Administration. Much of that initial work involved promoting Mr. Xi’s leadership. Mr. Lu quickly too aim at China’s then-primary social media platform, Weibo Inc., and celebrity bloggers who often gained tens of millions of followers with biting commentaries on food safety, property prices and air pollution that couldn’t be seen in state-run media. To hammer home his seriousness, Mr. Lu sometimes met groups of the most famous bloggers for dinner, where he warned them that rumor-mongering was illegal in China.

Mr. Lu also met with editors of international media on news coverage he considered too critical. Several publications became inaccessible online in China after he came to office, including The Wall Street Journal.

TV news in China is pretty weird, sometimes blacking out and often being edited in odd ways that are sometimes funny. In other news, here’s an interesting discussion. Oops! We didn’t realize that one of the participants is a criminal, convicted of the crime of thinking clearly.

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