Media & Internet

Lu Wei

Director, China State Internet Information Office | China

For exporting China’s Internet model to the world.

Many have wondered if the advent of a global, freewheeling Internet would reshape China. The reverse now looks just as likely. As China’s Internet czar, Lu Wei has championed both censorship and China’s new model of “Internet sovereignty,” the idea that a government has the right to determine what online content can enter its virtual borders. That may sound retrograde, but the confident Lu has a keen grasp of how information moves in Chinese cyberspace, and, as a result, he knows exactly how to stop it. It’s a model that other authoritarian regimes, and even nominally democratic Turkey, may already be looking to as they step up their own Internet policing. And as gatekeeper to China’s 600 million-plus Internet users, Lu may even have the bargaining power to bring Western Internet companies to heel. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of social networking giant Facebook, recently welcomed Lu to Facebook’s offices during his December visit to the United States. Although Facebook is blocked in China, Zuckerberg didn’t criticize Lu, instead speaking some Mandarin and showing Lu a copy of Chinese President Xi Jinping's new book, The Governance of China, sitting on Zuckerberg's desk.