China Blocks N.Y. Times Over Report on Premier’s Family

Chinese authorities have blocked The New York Times’ main websites in response to the newspaper’s extensive story about Premier Wen Jiabao and his extended family’s control of assets worth at least $2.7 billion, The Guardian reports.

The newspaper’s main site and Chinese-language site have been blocked and searches have been banned for “New York Times” in English and Chinese on microblogs.

A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry said the Times report “blackens China’s name and has ulterior motives”..

“China manages the internet in accordance with laws and rules,” Hong told reporters at a daily news briefing when asked why the sites were blocked.

The Times’ detailed and extensive report that was published on Thursday draws on company and regulatory filings. It found that several close relatives of the premier had become extremely wealthy since he rose to top leadership, but that many of the holdings have been masked by layers of partnerships and business relationships.

Wen”s 90-year-old mother, Yang Zhiyun, a retired schoolteacher, had a single investment in her name worth $120 million five years ago, The Times reports.

Here is an excerpt from The Times’ article by David Barboza, headlined ‘Billions in Riches for Family of Chinese leader.’:

“In many cases, the names of the relatives have been hidden behind layers of partnerships and investment vehicles involving friends, work colleagues and business partners. Untangling their financial holdings provides an unusually detailed look at how politically connected people have profited from being at the intersection of government and business as state influence and private wealth converge in China’s fast-growing economy.

Unlike most new businesses in China, the family’s ventures sometimes received financial backing from state-owned companies, including China Mobile, one of the country’s biggest phone operators, the documents show. At other times, the ventures won support from some of Asia’s richest tycoons. The Times found that Mr. Wen’s relatives accumulated shares in banks, jewelers, tourist resorts, telecommunications companies and infrastructure projects, sometimes by using offshore entities”

The BBC reports that China’s Twitter-like weibo platform has also blocked such keywords as Wen Jiabao and The New York Times. One post by a user in Japan that did make it through was removed 11 minutes later, the BBC says.



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