Senior Chinese propaganda official Zhang Jianchun faces corruption investigation

A senior Chinese propaganda official has been placed under investigation by the country’s top anti-corruption agency.

Zhang Jianchun, 59, a deputy head of the Central Publicity Department, is under investigation by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Supervisory Commission for “suspected serious disciplinary and legal violations” – the usual euphemism for corruption or political misdeeds.

The investigation comes at a critical time for the Chinese Communist Party, which is about to hold its much-delayed third plenum, traditionally an event for unveiling its economic strategy for the next five to 10 years.

It is unusual for serving senior members of the publicity department, formerly the propaganda department, to be placed under investigation and Zhang is the first to be snared by the country’s sweeping anti-corruption drive since the national party congress in 2022.

On Friday night, the department, which is responsible for disseminating the party’s messages and monitoring China’s heavily restricted media, held a meeting to discuss Zhang’s alleged wrongdoing.

A notice on its website said participants “unanimously agreed to stand by the party’s decision and fully support the investigation”.

The meeting emphasised the importance of upholding party discipline and promoting a clean government, citing the party’s commitment to “fully implementing the spirit” of party leader Xi Jinping’s instructions and “resolutely fighting against corruption.”

The department also called on officials to put party discipline in “an even more prominent position”.

Born in 1965 in the eastern province of Shandong, Zhang spent decades inside the party system, working in organisational roles in Shandong and Beijing’s local governments.


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In 2020, he was appointed as deputy head of the Central Publicity Department. In April he made a number of public appearances, including a meeting with US Patent and Trademark Office director Kathi Vidal.

As head of the Cyberspace Administration of China he played a crucial role implementing Xi’s cybersecurity policy and was best known outside China for his meetings with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

In his heyday before being abruptly moved from his post in 2016, he wielded enormous power over what 730 million Chinese internet users could access.


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