October 26, 2012 - 10:29 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The New York Times says access to its website is being blocked inside China after it published an investigation into wealth accumulated by relatives of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.
According to BBC, the newspaper said its Chinese-language site was blocked first, followed by its English-language site. References to the report also appear to be blocked on micro-blogging sites.
In its report, the paper said Wen's family members "have controlled assets worth at least $2.7bn".
"Many relatives of Wen Jiabao, including his son, daughter, younger brother and brother-in-law, have become extraordinarily wealthy during his leadership," the newspaper wrote. "In many cases, the names of the relatives have been hidden behind layers of partnerships and investment vehicles involving friends, work colleagues and business partners."
The newspaper said both the Chinese government and Wen's relatives declined to comment on the investigation, which was based on corporate records from 1992-2012.
No holdings were found in Wen's name, it said, nor was it possible "to determine from the documents whether he recused himself from any decisions that might have affected his relatives' holdings, or whether they received preferential treatment on investments".
China is sensitive about reports on its leaders, particularly when it comes to their wealth. A growing wealth gap is causing public discontent, as are the frequent corruption scandals involving government officials.
When, in June 2012, a Bloomberg investigative report examined the finances of the relatives of president-in-waiting Xi Jinping, the company's website was blocked in China - even though the report said there was no indication of wrongdoing by him or his family.
Wen has been the Chinese premier for almost 10 years. He is due to step down in a power transition that begins on November 8.
He is seen as a popular figure with the common touch, and is portrayed in state media as a leader with great concern for the lives of ordinary people.
A spokeswoman for New York Times said she hoped that full access to the websites would be "restored shortly" in China.