China has blocked the New York Times' website and all searches for "New York Times" on microblogs, accusing it of smearing Wen Jiabao with a story about the immense wealth his family has amassed during his reign as prime minister. A foreign ministry spokesman said the report "blackens China's name and has ulterior motives," the Guardian reports. While China's elite have long heard rumors about Wen's family, the scale of the Times story was shocking, and deeply embarrassing to Wen, the government's populist face.
There's some indication that Wen might not be as guilty as it appears; one US cable from 2007, released along with the Wikileaks cache, quotes a Shanghai executive as saying, "Wen is disgusted with his family's activities, but is either unable or unwilling to curtail them." And the Times report included a quote from a former colleague saying that such problems were rampant among China's senior leadership. "His enemies are intentionally trying to smear him by letting this leak out."