Panama Papers: The Country Where It’s Not News

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman refused to comment on the “groundless accusations” contained in the documents.

The Atlantic
Date: APR 5, 2016
By: Krishnadev Calamur

Andy Wong / AP
Andy Wong / AP

The Panama Papers are making headlines from Reykjavik to Sydney, but one place where there’s been conspicuous silence over the leak is China.

Documents from Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm that specializes in creating shell companies, reveal offshore companies linked to Deng Jiagui, who is married to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s older sister, as well as Li Xiaolin, the daughter of Li Peng, the former premier. Details of the documents—though not the papers themselves—were published Sunday in Süddeutsche Zeitung, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, and other news outlets worldwide. It’s worth emphasizing here that though the allegations in the Panama Papers are shocking, some of the actions described are perfectly legal. Still, that’s not stopping officials around the world from addressing the issue of perception. One way to do that is ordering a media blackout: At least one Chinese provincial office has issued a censorship directive to editors on the story.

“Find and delete reprinted reports on the Panama Papers. Do not follow up on related content, no exceptions,” said the directive from the unnamed province, which was obtained by the China Digital Times, a China-focused website that is based in Berkeley, California. “If material from foreign media attacking China is found on any website, it will be dealt with severely. This directive was delivered orally to on-duty editors. Please act immediately.”

A similar directive was issued to editors on stories related to the leak that allege close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Bank Rossiya, a Russian bank that has been blacklisted by the U.S. and the EU, laundered hundreds of millions of dollars. That story, the directive said, should be moved from the homepage to the “backend of the site.”

The Guardian adds that the directives appear to have had the desired effect. Stories related to the Panama Papers in the Shanghai Daily as well as CCTV, the state-run broadcaster, were purged. Neither of those stories mentioned the China-related allegations.     [FULL  STORY]