CCTV names new head after fire

Jiao Li replaces disgraced Zhao Huayong

BANGKOK -- The fire that burned a luxury hotel on the site of China Central Television's new headquarters has claimed one more victim: the career of former CCTV head Zhao Huayong.

On Sunday, CCTV named Jiao Li, a vice minister of China's Ministry of Propaganda, to head the state-run broadcaster. It said that because Zhao had already reached his position's retirement age, "it was normal to hand over to younger cadres," the Xinhua News Agency reported. Jiao had only served in his previous role since October, 2008, according to Guangzhou newspaper Southern Daily.

The February 9 fire at the hotel neighboring CCTV's unoccupied landmark headquarters in central Beijing began after a fireworks display on the property. Slated for a spring 2009 opening, the hotel was to be managed by the Mandarin Oriental chain. Both the hotel and the CCTV building were designed by Rotterdam, Netherlands, architects Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren for the firm OMA.

One Beijing firefighter died in the blaze. There has still been no decision as to the hotel's fate -- whether it will be pulled down and rebuilt or use the existing superstructure to continue construction.

Built at an estimated cost of US$750 million to US$1.2 billion, the national broadcaster's new headquarters will eventually move it from a nondescript tower in Beijing's western suburbs to an architectural wonder in the capital's central business district.