BEIJING (Reuters) - A loyal ally of Chinese President Hu Jintao is the front-runner to become propaganda minister during a once-in-a-decade generational leadership change, two sources said, but while media-savvy he is unlikely to drastically loosen tight controls.
Liu Qibao is tipped to be appointed to the post during the Communist Party's 18th congress, which opens on November 8....
Liu has direct experience working at the center of China's formidable propaganda machine, spending a year as a deputy editor at party mouthpiece the People's Daily from 1993 to 1994.
According to an official biography, he comes from a poor background and rose to the upper echelons of the party through Hu's powerbase of the Communist Youth League. For the party, these attributes make him an ideal candidate to run the propaganda team.
"They have to be very reliable in the eyes of the party," said Xiao Qiang, a China media expert at the University of California at Berkeley [School of Information].
"For the propaganda department, they always need control freaks, not somebody who will make mistakes, and that seems like the kind of personality Liu Qibao has," he added.