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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More