Date: July 01 2012
American officials have urged China not to censor its internet after the government blocked access to Bloomberg's website. The Chinese government had denied web access to the financial news agency following an investigative story on massive wealth amassed by relatives of Xi Jinping, the man expected to become China's new president.
''The US strongly supports respect for freedom of expression and press freedom in China, including over the internet,'' said a State Department official. ''We have continually urged China to respect internationally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms on the internet, including freedom of expression.''
Bloomberg reporters and editors declined to comment on their interactions with the Chinese government in the course of preparing the story. But a company spokesman, Ty Trippet, acknowledged that the blockage of the Bloomberg websites and its magazine Business Week appeared to be retaliatory, ''in reaction, we believe, to a Bloomberg News story that was published on Friday''.
Bloomberg's terminals, which constitute the company's main platform for financial information and its main source of revenue, were not blocked, Mr Trippet said.
Chinese officials have recently ratcheted up restrictions on and repression of dissidents and journalists before this year's meeting of the 18th Party Congress and scheduled top leadership changes.
Asked about the Bloomberg case by reporters on Friday, officials declined to comment.
The investigative report focused on the man who will be at the helm of the new leadership, delving into hundreds of millions of dollars worth of assets held by the extended family of Mr Xi, now China's Vice-President.
The report did not allege any illegal activity by Mr Xi's extended family nor did it directly link the wealth to Mr Xi himself. But the sprawling company holdings - ranging from the rare-earths industry to vast real estate properties - owned by Mr Xi's family members, including his sister and brother-in-law, would be likely to exacerbate the simmering unhappiness in the country with the growing wealth gap between those connected with China's top leaders and the rest of the populace, as well as with widespread official corruption.
Besides Bloomberg's website, other signs of the story on Mr Xi's family were scrubbed from the internet in China. On Weibo, a Chinese Twitter-like service, searches for terms such as ''bloomberg,'' ''xi jinping'' and ''crown prince'' were also blocked. Even the surname of China's presumed next leader - the single word ''Xi'' - was a banned search word.
In addition, many of the names and companies mentioned in the Bloomberg story were also blocked, including Xi Zhongxun (Xi Jinping's father), Deng Jiagui (Mr Xi's brother-in-law) and New Postcom (one of many profitable companies owned by Mr Xi's extended family).
The Washington Post
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