China blocks access to Bloomberg and Businessweek sites

Screengrab of Bloomberg.com Xi Jinping is set to become the country's next president

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Web users in mainland China are unable to access Bloomberg's websites, after they were blocked by local authorities.

The news agency thinks the move is a response to an article published about the fortunes of Vice President Xi Jinping's extended family.

China has repeatedly blocked sensitive stories. Two days ago, the New York Times' social media accounts were suspended for several hours.

Xi Jinping is set to become the country's next president.

"Our Bloomberg.com and Businessweek.com websites are currently inaccessible in China in reaction, we believe, to a Bloomberg News story that was published on Friday morning," Bloomberg told the BBC.

"Everything else is up and running - consumer and free public [sites] facing are blocked. Terminals are not disrupted."

The article talks about the multi-million dollar wealth of some of the Vice President's relatives.

The fortune amounts to investments in firms with total assets of $376m (£240m), an 18% indirect stake in a rare-earths company with $1.73bn (£1.12bn) in assets and a $20.2m (£12.8m) holding in a technology company.

Chinese web users Some Chinese web users try to find a way round the restrictions

"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," said the story.

The article said that the vice president's extended family also owns an empty villa at the South China Sea in Hong Kong, with an estimated value of $31.5m (£20.1m), and at least six other Hong Kong properties that have a combined estimated value of $24.1m (£15m).

Great Firewall

It is not the first time China's authorities blocked access to a foreign website.

The country closely monitors all internet content that crosses its borders, and several other western firms failed to penetrate what is known as the Great Firewall of China.

Websites of YouTube, Google+, Twitter, Dropbox, Facebook and Foursquare are all banned in the communist nation.

The move to block access to Bloomberg and Businessweek demonstrates that the wealth of the family of the country's possible next leader is also a sensitive subject for Beijing.

"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 the University of Chicago Center in Beijing.

The New York Times launched a Chinese language version of its website two days ago, aiming to tap into the world's biggest internet market.

But at least three of the newspaper's accounts with China's Twitter-like services got suspended within hours of the launch of its Chinese language portal.

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