The extent to which the Chinese government will go to censor information from their citizens knows no bounds. Despite China’s growing move to westernize their economy and society, they still continue to frequently limit speech and strive to cover up the rampant corruption within the government. The Financial Times reports on China’s ban on news outlet Bloomberg and its political significance:
Bloomberg’s news website remains blocked by China’s state censors a full month after it detailed the riches amassed by the family of Xi Jinping, the man who is expected to be the country’s next president.
Although periodic outages of foreign media websites in China are common, the month-long total blackout of Bloomberg is an unusually harsh response, highlighting the extent to which its coverage angered the government.
Beijing has tried to apply pressure in other ways, too. In the weeks since the article was published, people believed to be state security agents have tailed some Bloomberg employees; Chinese bankers and financial regulators have cancelled previously arranged meetings with Matthew Winkler, Bloomberg’s editor-in-chief; and Chinese investigators have visited local investment banks to see if they shared any information with Bloomberg, according to people with knowledge of these incidents.
In the report published on June 29, Bloomberg used publicly available records to show that Mr Xi’s extended family had investments in companies with total assets of $376m; an 18 per cent indirect stake in a rare earths company with $1.73bn in assets; a $20.2m holding in a publicly traded technology company; a luxury villa in Hong Kong worth about $31.5m and at least six other Hong Kong properties worth a combined $24.1m.
Bloomberg was unable to trace any assets to Mr Xi himself, or to his wife or daughter. There was also no evidence of any wrongdoing by Mr Xi or his family.
Nevertheless, the report was seen as embarrassing for Mr Xi, threatening to undermine his image as a clean official in a country rife with corruption just months before he is set to succeed Hu Jintao as president in a once-in-a-decade leadership transition.