Murdoch's son jets to Beijing on peace-making mission

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SYDNEY -- Lachlan Murdoch, 25, managing director of News Ltd and elder son of Rupert, flew into Shanghai on a company jet during the weekend to join Australian Prime Minister John Howard and a delegation of top businessmen on a fence-mending mission to China's leaders in Beijing.

Murdoch is seeking to heal the rift between News Corporation and Beijing created when his father, shortly after taking control of Star TV in Hong Kong in 1993, told a news conference that: "Advances in the technology of telecommunications have proved an unambiguous threat to totalitarian regimes everywhere".

Beijing interpreted Murdoch Senior's remarks as threatening and almost immediately imposed strict controls over satellite-dish ownership as well as introducing rival services to keep Murdoch at bay.

China's fear of corrupting influences is now one of the most serious hurdles NewsCorp's Star TV network has to overcome as it battles to enter China's massive television and entertainment market.

Prime Minister Howard is scheduled to meet President Jiang Zemin, Premier Li Peng and Vice-Premier Zhu Rongji as well as other influential business leaders during his six-day visit, giving Lachlan Murdoch opportunity to lobby Chinese decision-makers holding what many industry observers believe is the key to Star TV's access to 1.2 billion television viewers in the world's fastest growing economy.

Copyright March 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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