Former China propaganda chief dies

Former China propaganda chief and long-time Communist Party member Ding Guangen died in Beijing on Sunday from an illness, Xinhua news agency reported.

The state media did not reveal the exact cause of the death of Ding, who was 82.

He was arguably best known in the West for his close ties to China's former leader Deng Xiaoping, who launched China's opening up and reform policies. Ding reportedly played bridge regularly with Deng.

Ding served as the head of the party's propaganda bureau from 1992-2002. He played a key role in burnishing the image of China's booming economy and made the bloody crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen democracy protests a taboo subject in state media.

Born in September 1929 in east China's Jiangsu province, Ding was forced to resign as railway minister in 1988 following a series of train wrecks that left scores dead.

His political comeback was widely attributed to his ties with Deng, according to overseas Chinese press reports at the time.

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