News / Asia

China Blocks NYTimes Website Over Story on Wen Jiabao

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao speaks during an EU-China summit in Brussels on Sept. 20, 2012.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao speaks during an EU-China summit in Brussels on Sept. 20, 2012.
Chinese government censors moved quickly to block 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 report threatened to shatter the public image of Wen, who is known as a compassionate, reformist leader with a modest background. The Times says a review of corporate and regulatory records indicate the prime minister's relatives control assets of at least $2.7 billion.

Just hours after the article was posted, access to the paper's English and Chinese-language websites was blocked throughout China. Censors also hurried to delete references to the prime minister and his family on China's Twitter-like Weibo microblog, while the Times' Chinese social media accounts were also deleted.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei condemned the article on Friday, telling reporters that it was meant to "smear China" and had "ulterior motives."

NY Times reacts

Eileen Murphy, the paper's spokeswoman, expressed disappointment and said she hopes full access is restored soon. But she said the Times refuses to compromise its journalistic standards.  Following the June launch of its Chinese-language site, the paper made a similar commitment, vowing not to tailor its content based on "the demands of the Chinese government."

In a move suggesting it anticipated China's anger at the Friday article on Wen, the Times made the Chinese-language version available for download in PDF format, making it much easier to distribute.

Corruption allegations

It is not the first time that Beijing has blocked Chinese access to 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 stories are a major embarrassment for the Communist Party, which has vowed to crack down on corruption following widespread public anger over several high profile scandals. They also come just before a sensitive, once-a-decade leadership transition, which begins in less than two weeks with the 18th Party Congress.

The transition has already been overshadowed by the downfall of former Politburo member Bo Xilai, whose wife was convicted of corruption and murder in August. State media said Friday that Bo, under investigation for corruption and bribery, has been stripped of his legal immunity, suggesting he will soon stand trial.

Censorship

China's extensive network of Internet censors, dubbed the Great Firewall of China, has been working extra hard in the lead-up to the November 8 Congress to delete any sensitive online content regarding Bo or other senior Communist Party members.

Many analysts, speaking on the condition of anonymity, say they expect the censorship to get worse as the date of the Congress approaches, noting that Beijing has in the past throttled Internet communication ahead of sensitive political events.

Some foreign journalists in China have already reported slower than usual Internet connections and increased trouble accessing VPNs, which allow users to circumvent Chinese censorship. The cause of the problem is difficult to identify, since Internet access in China is normally inconsistent and those wanting to access barred foreign websites must already play a cat-and-mouse game in order to do so.

Recent problems with the Internet have become so widespread that The Relevant Organs, a spoof Chinese government Twitter account, joked this week that the "next notch on the Internet Slower-Downer is off," saying foreigners should "catch the hint and get out of town for the Party Congress."

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
 Previous    
by: Francis from: Washington State
October 27, 2012 6:44 AM
The Chinese Communist Party exists in name only. The corruptions attributed to the Party bosses will eventually be exposed to the masses. They can suppress such blockbuster news for so long. It will be painful for the party elites when the masses call on them to account for their misdeeds.
In Response

by: Anonymous
October 29, 2012 6:12 PM
Is it ture? what's the eveidence? Before clearing everything, the report only confuse chinese. What's the purpose of these news? I can understand why China blocked the report about Wenjiabao's wealth. Wenjiabao is respected in China.
In Response

by: eddy from: shanghai
October 29, 2012 3:37 AM
Oh It is very hard to believe that WJB involved such corruption. Hopely it is not true.
     

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs