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Chinese agency bans online mention of Panama Papers

The newly leaked documents disclose information on the alleged hidden wealth of several Chinese government officials.


China is flexing its censorship muscles yet again, banning any online mention of the widely publicized Panama Papers.

A government agency sent an order to media groups to "find and delete reprinted reports of the Panama Papers. Do not follow up on related content, no exceptions," according to the China Digital Times. "If material from foreign media attacking China is found on any website, it will be dealt with severely."

The Panama Papers refer to 2.6 terabytes of information published online Sunday after a yearlong investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a German newspaper and other news groups. The more than 11 million legal and financial records were stolen from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca's servers. They focus on 140 politicians and public officials worldwide with previously undisclosed involvement in or ownership of offshore financial havens.

Relatives of eight current or former members of China's ruling party were implicated.

The most significant findings among the Chinese officials were secret offshore activities linked to the family of Xi Jinping, the country's president. His brother-in-law, Deng Jiagui, was named. Xi assumed office in 2013 and has led a public charge against corruption in China.

Also named were Li Xiaolin, daughter of former premier Li Peng, and Jasmine Li, granddaughter of former Standing Committee member Jia Qinglin.

The Chinese agency also ordered that references be removed relating to money laundering of people associated with Russian President Vladamir Putin.

The Global Times, a publication run by the Chinese government, posted an op-ed shortly after the leaks that implied the Panama Papers' information had been distorted to make countries like China and Russia look bad.

The leaks have already made an impact, with Iceland Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigning Tuesday. This followed mass public outrage in Iceland at Gunnlaugsson's offshore dealings and use of tax havens.