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China replaces head of state news agency Xinhua

January 2, 2015

China has appointed a top official of the ruling party’s propaganda department as president of the Xinhua news agency, the key mouthpiece of the Communist state.

The appointment of Cai Mingzhao, a vice director of the propaganda department, is the latest of several replacements in the party’s key information and media agencies over the past year.

Cai, 59, replaced Li Congjun, who turned 65 in October and reached the age limit for ministerial-level posts, the agency said in a statement on Wednesday.

Cai is “politically sober and firm, keeps an appropriate grasp in guiding public opinion and conscientiously aligns himself with the party’s central committee”, the statement quoted Pan Ligang, a deputy head of the party’s Organisation Department, as saying.

Cai was previously head of the information office of the State Council, China’s cabinet.

He worked for Xinhua for 23 years from 1978, reports said, first as a journalist and later promoted to managerial level.

On Sunday, Luo Shugang, a vice director of the Propaganda Department, took over from Cai Wu as culture minister.

In April, Yang Zhenwu was appointed the new president of the People’s Daily, the party’s flagship newspaper.

Xinhua was founded in 1931 and started using its current name in 1937. It is headquartered in Beijing and has more than 180 outlets overseas, according to the agency’s website.

The agency has a virtual monopoly on the distribution of information for the Chinese domestic market.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.