China has blocked the websites of The Guardian and other media organisations which published stories about the offshore holdings of relatives of the country’s leading figures.
Leaked financial documents showed that brother-in-law of the president, Xi Jinping, and the son and son-in-law of the former premier Wen Jiabao were among more than a dozen family members of current or former leaders using offshore companies in the Caribbean.
The website of the Guardian became inaccessible in China shortly after the story appeared. The site of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which obtained the British Virgin Islands leaks, also seemed to be blocked as well as Spain’s El Pais paper and Australia’s Global Mail.
Beijing’s Foreign ministry questioned the motivation behind the reports. Asked about the site blocking, a spokesman said: “Relevant departments of China carry out management of the internet in accordance with laws and regulations.”
The spokesman added: “From the point of view of readers, the logic of some of the related articles is unconvincing, and it leads people to suspect the intentions behind it.”
China has consistently sought to suppress reports of the wealth of leading officials and families. The websites of Bloomberg and the New York Times have been blocked for more than a year since they reported on the onshore assets of relatives of leaders, including those of Xi and Wen. They have also been unable to obtain visas for new reporters.