China blocks Bloomberg site after report on leader

BEIJING: China blocked access to Bloomberg’s website on the mainland after the business and financial news agency published a report today detailing the multimillion-dollar assets of relatives of the man set to become the country’s next president.

The report says that the extended family of Vice President Xi Jinping holds interests that include investments in companies with total assets of $ 376 million, an 18 per cent indirect stake in a rare-earths company with $ 1.73 billion in assets and a $ 20 million holding in a tech company. The report cites public documents Bloomberg reporters compiled.

Bloomberg noted that no assets were traced to Xi, his wife, or their daughter and said in the report that there was no indication of any wrongdoing by Xi or his extended family.

Still, the move to block access to Bloomberg’s main website, on which the Xi story was the lead news item, underscores the government’s sensitivity to such exposure of wealth belonging to people linked to top leaders amid a burgeoning gap between rich and poor and rampant official corruption.

“The government has always been very careful in, on the one hand, emphasizing how they want to contain corruption but yet also worrying about how reports of this nature might galvanize public opinion against the Communist Party,” said Dali Yang, a political scientist at University of Chicago Centre in Beijing.

The outage also points to the government’s concerns about ensuring the country’s leadership transition goes smoothly. Xi is poised to take over as Communist Party leader in the fall and president next spring.

Bloomberg’s spokeswoman in Asia, Belina Tan, said the company believed the Bloomberg site was inaccessible in China because of a story that it published today. Tan did not elaborate.

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