Chinese government censors blocked the New York Times website Friday after it published a blockbuster story detailing the massive wealth accumulated by the family of Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.
The Times said a review of corporate and regulatory records indicate the prime minister’s relatives control assets of at least $2.7 billion.
Hours after the article was posted, access to the paper’s English and Chinese-language websites was blocked throughout China. Censors also deleted references to the prime minister and his family on China’s Twitter-like Weibo microblog. The Times’ Chinese social media accounts were also deleted.
A spokesperson for the Times said the paper refuses to compromise its journalistic standards. Following the June launch of its Chinese-language site, the Times made a similar commitment, vowing not to tailor its content based on “the demands of the Chinese government.”
The Times made the Chinese-language version available for download in PDF format, making it much easier to distribute.
Beijing has blocked Chinese access to other Western news outlets that posted stories exposing senior level government corruption. Bloomberg’s website has been blocked since June, when it ran a similar story describing the wealth amassed by the family of Vice President Xi Jinping, who is likely to become the country’s leader for the next decade.
The Communist Party begins a sensitive, once-a-decade leadership transition on November 8.
Foreign journalists in China are reporting slower than usual Internet connections and increased trouble accessing VPNs, which allow users to circumvent Chinese censorship.
— With reporting from VOA News.