State Council deputy secretary general Wang Zhongwei, a former Shanghai propaganda chief and later a senior propaganda official in the central government, has been picked to head Premier Li Keqiang's office, sources said.
Wang, 58, is believed to have caught Li's attention during a trip to Hong Kong two years ago. Then deputy director of the State Council Information Office, Wang was responsible for co-ordinating publicity for the trip, and his organisational capabilities impressed Li despite a protest at the University of Hong Kong, sources said.
The protest and its handling by Hong Kong police in August 2011 snowballed into a political row about whether police had used excessive force to remove protesters and whether a campus lockdown was justified.
The same age as Li, Wang rose through the Communist Youth League's Shanghai committee when Li led its central committee. He was deputy secretary of the Youth League in Shanghai and chairman of Shanghai's Youth Federation between 1988 and 1993, when Li was chief of the Youth League's central committee and deputy chairman of the All-China Youth Federation.
Wang was deputy Communist Party boss of Shanghai's press and publication bureau and party chief of Shanghai's Wenhui Bao newspaper before joining the party's Shanghai municipal committee in 1997.
He rose from deputy secretary general to a member of the standing committee and was in charge of publicity work for the 12 years he served on the committee. He was transferred to the State Council Information Office in 2009 and became deputy culture minister three years later. He was appointed deputy secretary general of the State Council in April.
Originally from Zhejiang , Wang earned a diploma by studying while he worked, according to his résumé.
Yang Haipeng , a senior journalist in Shanghai when Wang headed the propaganda department, said that although Wang was not very highly educated, he was very smart.
"He has a great ability to deal with problems by showing flexibility," Yang said. "A perfect mixer in any company."
Known for his frequent use of coarse language, Wang seemed "open-minded" in private, Yang said, although he was shackled by Chinese politics.
At a conference on the media's responsibilities in 2005, Wang told reporters that the key to constructing a harmonious society was how well the media could resolve conflicts.
"It's impossible for us to go back to a unitary society," he said.