China blocks NY Times over story on leader's 'hidden fortune'

A New York Times report detailed the family wealth of Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, and the Chinese government was not amused.

The Chinese government is not too happy today with The New York Times.

A report from the newspaper yesterday detailed how relatives of Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao have grown extraordinarily wealthy during his time in China's ruling elite. The NYT reported that his family has "controlled assets" valued at $2.7 billion. His wealth stands in stark contrast to the poverty that afflicts large numbers of people in China, and was built in some cases, with financial backing from state-owned companies.

In response, China has blocked the newspaper's site in both English and Chinese for mentioning his family's wealth. Users that cited the Times article on Sina Weibo, a popular Twitter-like microblogging service in China, have also seen their postings removed.

China is certainly no stranger to blocking sites. In the past, the company has banned everything from Foursquare to YouTube . Google, which was forced to censor certain search results, removed its servers from China shores in 2010, and now keeps them in Hong Kong to limit state interference.

The wealth of China's political elite has become a cause for concern for the government as it tries to appear more populist in the face of a growing middle class. To control that, China has resorted to blockades. Earlier this year, Bloomberg reported that Xi Jinping, the man believed to be China's next president, is worth millions. Bloomberg was quickly blocked by the government.

"We hope that full access is restored shortly, and we will ask the Chinese authorities to ensure that our readers in China can continue to enjoy New York Times journalism," Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said today in a statement.

 

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