Bloomberg Unearths Xi Jinping’s Family Fortune
A recent Bloomberg report detailing the millionaire assets of the extended family of Xi Jinping, China’s presumptive next leader, has drawn praise from the community of China media observers for its thorough investigative work and fact-based reporting. Beijing-based analyst Bill Bishop wrote on his blog, Sinocism, that though Bloomberg “may have damaged its future business prospects in China … it is proving again that it may now be [the] best news organization in the world.” In particular, Bloomberg’s hard-hitting reportage on the financial assets of the families of Bo Xilai, Gu Kailai, and now Xi Jinping has been bolstered by employing practices such as the judicious disclosure of sources and the investigative process, as well as steering away from reporting on rumors or speculation. An example of the report’s clear and factual reporting can be seen here:
Bloomberg’s accounting included only assets, property and shareholdings in which there was documentation of ownership by a family member and an amount could be clearly assigned. Assets were traced using public and business records, interviews with acquaintances and Hong Kong and Chinese identity-card numbers.
In cases where family members use different names in mainland China and in Hong Kong, Bloomberg verified identities by speaking to people who had met them and through multiple company documents that show the same names together and shared addresses.
Bloomberg provided a list showing the Xi family’s holdings to China’s Foreign Ministry. The government declined to comment.
In October 2000, Xi Zhongxun’s family gathered on his 87th birthday for a photograph at a state guest house in Shenzhen, two years before the patriarch’s death. The southern metropolis bordering Hong Kong is now one of China’s richest, thanks in part to the elder Xi. He persuaded former leader Deng Xiaoping to pioneer China’s experiment with open markets in what was a fishing village.
Probing into the hidden assets of China's top political leaders, however, has not been without consequence to Bloomberg’s commercial interests. Bloomberg.com was blocked in China on the day before the Friday publication of the article, presumably because the reporters had contacted China’s foreign ministry for comment.
Nonetheless, Bloomberg reporters have set a high standard for investigative fact-based reporting, particularly in a political environment awash with rumors and speculation. “Who is next for the Bloomberg reporters,” asks Bishop, “and when do they start collecting their prizes?”
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