Bloomberg Blocked After Revealing Xi Family Wealth
Bloomberg ran a lengthy report on Xi Jinping – the presumed heir to the title of China’s paramount leader, digging deep into the business connections of his family. After outlining Xi’s reputation for being a clean, moral politician who championed an anti-graft campaign, the article airs the extensive business relations and enormous reserves of wealth connected to the Xi family:
As Xi climbed the Communist Party ranks, his extended family expanded their business interests to include minerals, real estate and mobile-phone equipment, according to public documents compiled by Bloomberg.
Those interests include investments in companies with total assets of $376 million; an 18 percent indirect stake in a rare- earths company with $1.73 billion in assets; and a $20.2 million holding in a publicly traded technology company. The figures don’t account for liabilities and thus don’t reflect the family’s net worth.
No assets were traced to Xi, who turns 59 this month; his wife Peng Liyuan, 49, a famous People’s Liberation Army singer; or their daughter, the documents show. There is no indication Xi intervened to advance his relatives’ business transactions, or of any wrongdoing by Xi or his extended family.[…]
After Bloomberg makes the important note that none of these assets can be tied directly to Xi, it offers a contextual picture of a China rife with tension surrounding wealth and corruption. The in-depth piece of investigative reporting outlines the Xi family’s revolutionary history and Jinping’s “princeling” status before diving into the massive business holdings of his extended family:
Xi and his siblings are the children of the late Xi Zhongxun, a revolutionary fighter who helped Mao Zedong win control of China in 1949 with a pledge to end centuries of inequality and abuse of power for personal gain. That makes them “princelings,” scions of top officials and party figures whose lineages can help them wield influence in politics and business.
The Bloomberg report said most of the assets it traced were owned by Xi’s older sister, Qi Qiaoqiao, her husband, Deng Jiagui, and Qi’s daughter, Zhang Yannan.
It said Deng held an indirect 18% stake in a rare earth firm with $1.7bn (£1.1bn) in assets, while the couple held 1.83bn yuan (£184m) of the assets of the Shenzhen Yuanwei Investment Company and wholly owned the Yuanwei group, which had assets worth at least 539m yuan (£55m). The report did not assess the liabilities of relatives and so could not calculate their net worth.
Deng told the agency he was retired and it was “not convenient” to talk much about the couple’s business interests. The Chinese government refused to comment when the agency provided a list showing the Xi family’s holdings to the foreign ministry.
Shortly after the piece went online, Bloomberg found its website on the harmonious side of the Great Firewall. AP reports:
China blocked access to Bloomberg’s website on the mainland after the business and financial news agency published a report Friday detailing the multimillion-dollar assets of relatives of the man set to become the country’s next president.
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, emphasizing how they want to contain corruption but yet also worrying about how reports of this nature might galvanize public opinion against the Communist Party,” said Dali Yang, a political scientist at University of Chicago Center in Beijing.