China has replaced the man in charge of the country's tight internet controls with a rising star in the Communist Party, news reports said Wednesday.
Lu Wei has stepped aside in favour of his deputy Xu Lin as director of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), which controls online security and censorship, the South China Morning Post reported.
Xu, 53, is considered a key ally of President Xi Jinping, after the two worked together in the Shanghai party committee. Xu was in charge of communications on the committee until Xi moved to Beijing in 2007.
Lu, 56, is also thought to be close to the president. He retains a role as a deputy head of the Communist Party's Central Publicity Department, the report said.
Lu, listed as one of the world's 100 most influential people by Time magazine last year, oversaw a dramatic tightening of Beijing's monitoring and control of the internet since 2013, when he became head of the CAC.
China employs robust internet controls, known collectively as the Great Firewall of China, to block Google services, such as Gmail and Google Maps, as well as the social media sites Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.