State media report today that Liu Binjie (柳斌杰), the head of China’s General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP) — the agency that licenses journalists and print publications in the country and oversees ideological training campaigns for media — will serve as dean of the Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication effective March 1.
Liu Binjie’s appointment to head up the journalism school at Tsinghua, generally recognized as one of China’s top universities, is explained in media reports as a routine replacement of Fan Jingyi (范敬宜), the previous dean (and the school’s first), who passed away on November 13 last year.
However, the fact that journalism schools at three of China’s top universities are now being run by former ministerial-level (正部级) officials has led to speculation on social media that Liu’s choice might be politically significant.
Liu Binjie served previously as minister of propaganda for the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Youth League, and as the top Party propaganda official in China’s western Sichuan province.
The current dean at Peking University’s school of journalism is Shao Huaze (邵华泽), a former top official at the CCP’s flagship People’s Daily newspaper. The dean of the journalism school at People’s University of China is Zhao Qizheng (赵启正), the former director of China’s State Council Information Office, where controls on China’s internet are centered.
It was not immediately clear from Chinese news coverage whether Liu Binjie’s appointment would mean his replacement as head of GAPP, or whether he would hold the positions concurrently.