China has appointed a senior official from the ruling party's department of propaganda as head of the state news agency Xinhua.

Xinhua is an important mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist state and its editorial and opinion pages are seen to reflect official party thinking.

Cai Mingzhao was appointed as president of Xinhua after 65-year-old Li Congjun stepped down from the post, after he reached the age limit for ministerial-level positions, Xinhua said in a statement.

The new man in is "politically sober and firm, keeps an appropriate grasp in guiding public opinion and conscientiously aligns with himself with the party's central committee," said Pan Ligang, a deputy head in the party's department of organisation, according to the Xinhua statement.

Cai has previously served the party as the head of the information office at the state council. He used to work for Xinhua as a journalist, and later at a management level.

The move is the latest in a series of changes in senior positions within China's tightly controlled media sector.

Yang Zhenwu was appointed president at the People's Daily in April. The newspaper has served as the flagship paper of the ruling party since it was founded in the 1940s.