China blocks Xi searches after Bloomberg report

PTI Beijing | Updated on March 12, 2018

China blocked web searches today for the name of leader-in-waiting Mr Xi Jinping, a day after cutting access to Bloomberg sites following the agency’s publication of a report on his family’s wealth.

The financial newswire, Bloomberg, used publicly available records to compile a list of investments by the Chinese Vice President Mr Xi’s extended family, which the agency said totalled $376 million.

The report did not trace any assets to Mr Xi, who is expected to become the Chinese president in an upcoming leadership transition, his wife or their daughter.

Nevertheless the story, which highlighted the access to riches enjoyed by the elite in a country with a growing wealth gap, prompted Chinese authorities to block access to all of the Bloomberg’s sites from within China after its publication yesterday.

The censors went a step further today and blocked searches for Mr Xi’s name on the Internet and in microblogs. Access to the report remained blocked, as well as to Bloomberg sites and the site of its affiliate, Business Week.

“Our website is currently inaccessible in China in reaction, we believe, to a Bloomberg news story that was published on Friday,” company spokesman, Mr Ty Trippet, said.

Chinese authorities were not immediately available to comment on the Internet censorship.

Beijing regularly blocks Internet searches of information that it considers sensitive under a vast online censorship system known as the “Great Firewall.”

The New York-based, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), condemned the censorship and urged China to stop blocking overseas websites and news.

“China cannot have lasting success as an international power if officials block global business news because they don’t like a critical report,” Mr Bob Dietz, CPJ Asia program coordinator, said in a statement.

“Leaders must put China’s business interests above their own by unblocking Bloomberg’s website,” he added.

The Bloomberg report said that Xi’s family - largely his sisters and their spouses - held an 18 per cent indirect stake in Rare-Earths company with $1.73 billion in assets, a $20 million holding in a tech company and had financial links to leading real estate firms.

Published on June 30, 2012

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