Saturday, 30 June 2012

Bloomberg site blocked over Xi family report

Website can’t be accessed on mainland after US$376m assets of vice-president’s relatives are disclosed

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Guanyu 道 said...

Bloomberg site blocked over Xi family report

Website can’t be accessed on mainland after US$376m assets of vice-president’s relatives are disclosed

Associated Press and Bloomberg
30 June 2012

China blocked access to Bloomberg’s website on the mainland after the business and financial news agency published a report yesterday detailing the multimillion-dollar assets of relatives of the man set to become the country’s next president.

The report says that the extended family of Vice-President Xi Jinping holds interests that include investments in companies with total assets of US$376 million, an 18 per cent indirect stake in a rare-earths company with US$1.73 billion in assets and a US$20 million holding in a technology company. The report cites public documents compiled by Bloomberg reporters.

Bloomberg noted that no assets were traced to Xi, his wife, or their daughter and said in the report that there was no indication of any wrongdoing by Xi or his extended family.

Still, the move to block access to Bloomberg’s main website, on which the Xi story was the lead news item, underscores the government’s sensitivity to such exposure of wealth belonging to people linked to top leaders amid a burgeoning gap between rich and poor and rampant official corruption.

“The government has always been very careful in, on the one hand, emphasising how they want to contain corruption but yet also worrying about how reports of this nature might galvanise public opinion against the Communist Party,” said Dali Yang, a political scientist at University of Chicago Centre in Beijing.

The blocking also points to the government’s concerns about ensuring the country’s leadership transition goes smoothly. Xi is poised to take over as Communist Party leader in the autumn and president next spring.

Bloomberg’s spokeswoman in Asia, Belina Tan, said the company believed the Bloomberg site was inaccessible in China because of a story that it published on Friday. Tan did not elaborate.

The websites and microblog account of Bloomberg Business Week China - a joint venture by the agency and two mainland media groups - were also blocked yesterday.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has refused to comment.

Among details revealed by Bloomberg were that most of the assets of Xi’s extended family it traced were owned by Xi’s older sister Qi Qiaoqiao, her husband Deng Jiagui and her daughter.

The report said Deng held an indirect 18 per cent stake in a rare-earths company, while Qi and Deng held assets in a real estate and a diversified holding company called Shenzhen Yuanwei Investment totaling 1.83 billion yuan (HK$2.34 billion) among other assets.

It also listed a number of luxury properties held by Qi, 63, and her daughter Zhang Yanyan, 33, in Hong Kong. Qi still holds a property in the Pacific Palisades complex in Braemar Hill on Hong Kong Island, while Zhang paid HK$150 million in 2009 for a villa on Belleview Drive in Repulse Bay.

Zhang also owns four luxury units in the Convention Plaza Apartments residential tower adjoining the Grand Hyatt hotel.

Deng was also the legal representative of a Beijing-based company that bought a 0.8 per cent stake in Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties for 30 million yuan in a 2009 private placement, the report said.