The controversial former top party official in Shanwei, which oversees the restive village of Wukan, has been appointed deputy propaganda chief of Guangdong.
Zheng Yanxiong, a native of Shantou city, was appointed to the position this month, the online portal of People's Daily reported yesterday.
Rumours of the appointment had been circulating for weeks, but no official announcement had been made.
The Nanfang Daily reported that Zheng had attended a song and dance troupe performance in Guangzhou on Friday night in his new capacity, along with Guangdong's deputy party secretary, Zhu Mingguo.
The appointment will come as a surprise to many. Zheng was heavily criticised in December 2011 for making inflammatory remarks during protests in Wukan by villagers who felt they had not been sufficiently compensated for collectively owned farmland that had been requisitioned by the government. Leaked video clips from an internal government meeting showed Zheng saying, "Pigs will fly before the foreign press can be trusted".
Zheng also accused Wukan villagers of "colluding with foreign media to create trouble", and referred to some foreign press as "rotten". Defending his remarks at the time, Zheng told a Guangzhou-based magazine that he had simply used a colloquial Hong Kong expression, as the language between Shanwei and Hong Kong is similar.
"I thought it would be easier to convince them with Hong Kong-style language. Now that I reflect on it, I would not have used such words during a public speech," Zheng said.
Zheng, who graduated with a master's degree in economics from Sun Yat-sen University, worked at the southern bureau of the People's Daily from 1992 to 2002.
He was appointed deputy director of the provincial policy research office in 2002 and became deputy mayor of Shanwei in 2005. Four years later, he was named mayor, and became party secretary of Shanwei in September 2011 - the same month the Wukan incident began.
The Nanfang Daily reported last month that Zheng was stepping down from his position as party secretary in Shanwei.