US media giant News Corporation has signalled the vital importance of the People's Republic of China to its future world growth plans.

The Murdoch family has imported a new non-executive director to NewsCorp's main board, John Thornton (50), erstwhile president and co-chief operating officer of investment bank Goldman Sachs.

It is not without significance that Thornton, a former non-exec board member of NewsCorp's UK unit BSkyB, is also professor of global leadership at Beijing's elite Tsinghua University.

As if to underscore his close relationship with the party establishment, Thornton was recently appointed by China's securities regulator to serve on an international advisory council charged with bringing China's stock markets into line with global practices.

In his spare time he also serves on the boards of Ford Motor Company, Intel, Pacific Century Group and NewsCorp-controlled DirecTV.

Thornton's appointment comes just two months after that of Viet Dinh, a 36-year-old advisor to the Bush administration. Prior to his entry into government service, Dinh was Professor of Law and Deputy Director of Asian Law and Policy Studies at the Georgetown University Law Center.

Murdoch has urged China's government to grant NewsCorp (and other occidental media titans) less fettered entry to its vast markets, telling the comrades their nation could become a centre for the media industry rivalling that of the US and UK.

Fear of exactly that scenario may account for the barriers already erected by the canny Chinese.

Data sourced from: Sydney Morning Herald; additional content by WARC staff