Lu Wei is the charismatic head of China’s State Internet Information Office (SIIO), a position he has held since 2013. In May 2014, Xi Jinping appointed him to serve concurrently as office director of the powerful Central Internet Security and Informationization Leading Group (CISILG). Previously, Lu spent several years as vice mayor of Beijing and head of the capital’s propaganda office, following a long career at the official Xinhua news agency, where he was agency vice-president from 2004 until 2011.
Lu holds degrees from Guangxi University, the Central Party School, and Renmin University.
Why is he in the news?
Censorship has expanded rapidly under Xi Jinping, and Lu Wei has expressed strong opinions to domestic and international audiences on the Chinese Communist Party’s (CPC) need to understand and control information. In a 2013 People’s Daily editorial, published following Xi’s speech at the Propaganda and Ideology Work Conference, Lu wrote, “We must… persist in comprehensively planning both the domestic and international larger pictures, expand network construction and management strength, closely grasp the online public opinion battlefield, and guarantee national security and ideological security.”
Lu is a vocal proponent of China’s “internet sovereignty” model of global internet governance, under which states have free reign to control the internet within their borders. This model was prominently displayed at in November of 2014 at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, convened by the SIIO and overseen by Lu, where a rushed attempt to put forth a consensus declaration on new rules for internet governance notably failed.
What can we expect from him?
Through his involvement in the CISILG, Lu will be central to realizing Xi Jinping’s agenda to balance the economic benefits of the open internet with the CPC’s desire for information control. Confronted with criticisms about foreign websites being blocked in China, Lu said that “I can’t change who you are but I have the power to choose my friends . . . I wish that all who come to China will be our real friends.”
Lu’s message may be getting through. He made headlines in December of 2014 when he toured the United States and met with some of Silicon Valley’s most visible personages, including Apple’s Tim Cook, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg controversially had Xi Jinping’s The Governance of China displayed on his desk, and told Lu that he wanted Facebook employees to “understand socialism with Chinese characteristics.”