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China blocks Bloomberg for political report

In China, Internet users have been blocked from accessing the website of the Bloomberg news agency. (AFP/Ed Jones)

New York, June 29, 2012--Chinese censors should unblock the website of the Bloomberg news agency, which became inaccessible today following a story on the vice president's family and its financial assets, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

In a report headlined "Xi Jinping's millionaire relations reveal elite Chinese fortunes," Bloomberg traced millions of dollars in assets to the extended family of Xi, who is expected to be China's next president. China blocked the news agency's website on the mainland, according to international news reports. Bloomberg's report did not link the assets to Xi or his immediate family, but quoted Xi speaking out against corruption and urging party officials not to let their families profit through their position: "Rein in your spouses, children, relatives, friends and staff."

Ty Trippet, a spokesman for Bloomberg, told CPJ by email, "Our Bloomberg.com website is currently inaccessible in China in reaction, we believe, to a Bloomberg News story that was published today." Belina Tan, Bloomberg's Asia spokeswoman, also told The Associated Press that the company believed the site had been inaccessible after a report published Friday, but did not provide more details. The AP could not reach a Chinese government spokesperson for comment. "It is unclear which government department to even approach to seek an explanation," AP reported. CPJ contacted a government department outside normal business hours, but received no reply.

The name "Bloomberg" was also blocked from Chinese microblog search results, while Internet searches for "Bloomberg" conducted in China did not return the Xi Jinping report, according to international news reports. The Bloomberg Professional service, which provides access to real-time financial data, was still available, the reports said.

"China cannot have lasting success as an international power if officials block global business news because they don't like a critical report," said Bob Dietz, CPJ Asia program coordinator. "Leaders must put China's business interests above their own by unblocking Bloomberg's website."

International news reports are available to some extent in China, although it blocks some sites and individual stories selectively, according to CPJ research. Some sites, like Twitter, are only accessible via proxy servers which allow users to circumvent the censors' firewall, CPJ research shows.

Chinese-language content from overseas is particularly vulnerable to censorship, CPJ research shows. The New York Times launched its own Chinese-language site on Thursday.

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