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New York Times websites blocked in China after report on premier

BEIJING — Access to the New York Times' English and Chinese websites were blocked in China on Friday shortly after the newspaper published a report on the vast family fortune of the country's premier, Wen Jiabao.

The story, which suggests Wen's family used their influence to amass assets worth at least $2.7 billion, comes at a highly sensitive time weeks before a once-a-decade leadership transition.

Potentially damaging to Wen and his supporters is how the story contradicts the leader's carefully cultivated image as a humble populist.

Details about the private lives and finances of China's leaders are strictly off limits for the state-controlled Chinese press.

Chinese censors regularly block foreign websites and bar access to sensitive stories, both online and on television to the few outlets inside China that receive international broadcasters.

Bloomberg News is still encountering difficulties in China after publishing a report in June about the wealth accumulated by the family of Vice President Xi Jinping, the man widely expected to be the next leader of China. Bloomberg's website is still inaccessible inside China without special software.

The New York Times was a banned search term Friday on China's popular micro-blogging services, which are akin to Twitter.

The New York Times launched its Chinese-language site in June, a major effort that required hiring dozens of translators and moving its Beijing bureau into more expansive facilities. The site's servers are located outside of China.

"We hope that full access is restored shortly, and we will ask the Chinese authorities to ensure that our readers in China can continue to enjoy New York Times journalism," said Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for the newspaper.

Former leader Bo Xial expelled, faces prosecution

Chinese lawmakers stripped disgraced politician Bo Xilai of his last official position Friday, formally expelling him from the country's top legislature and clearing the way for criminal proceedings against the once-rising political star. Though largely a formality since Bo was purged from the Communist Party late last month, his expulsion from the congress removes his immunity from prosecution. That sets the stage for a criminal case involving accusations of corruption and other wrongdoing, including interfering in the investigation into the murder of a British businessman. Bo's wife and a household aide were convicted of the murder last month.

Associated Press

New York Times websites blocked in China after report on premier 10/26/12 [Last modified: Friday, October 26, 2012 11:08pm]
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