Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Panama Papers: China censorship revelations – The Point

Silence of the authorities, criticism of “Western forces” hostile and all-out censorship: Tuesday, Beijing was trying to stifle the revelations of the Panama Papers investigation, targeting leaders of the Chinese Communist regime. And Beijing remained silent even as the firm of Panamanian lawyers in the heart of the scandal has more offices in China than in any other country. The revelation, by a hundred media including Le Monde , of tax evasion practices by many political leaders and personalities worldwide has caused global repercussions: political earthquakes, investigation trips, indignant denials cascade. But not in China.

By analyzing millions of documents from the law firm Mossack Fonseca, coordinated investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has yet shown the involvement of Chinese leaders. “Relatives of at least eight members, former or current” all-powerful political dubBureau Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the body that runs the second largest economy, opened shell companies in tax havens ensures ICIJ. For now, Beijing keeps a stubborn silence. “On such baseless accusations, I have no comment,” said Tuesday scathingly, spokesman of the Foreign Ministry Hong Lei. The brother-President Xi Jinping and the daughter of former Premier Li Peng include pinned by ICIJ. The BBC says it, relatives of two current members of the standing committee of the political bureau, Zhang Gaoli and Liu Yunshan. Embarrassing, while Xi Jinping gladly boasts its extensive anticorruption campaign to clean up the party ranks through numerous arrests of executives. But without systemic reforms. Officials – supposed to “serve the people” – have no obligation to declare their assets

Media enjoined to silence

In an editorial, the official daily Global Times for his part said the scandal was part of a campaign of “disinformation” spurred by “powerful forces” Western. “These documents were mainly political targets,” he added, seeing it as “a new strategy (…) to attack non-Western political elites” and lambasting the “special influence in Washington.” The Global Times , like other official media stressed the questioning of foreign leaders, as Russian President Vladimir Putin, but was careful not to mention Chinese officials pinned. The subject was widely censured in the press, such as on social networks – despite the efforts of some users to bypass blockages by posting pictures of items. Chinese journalists were ordered to “delete all content on leaks of Panama Papers ,” according to instructions sent to editors and consulted by AFP.

Affluent Chinese customers

beyond the political elite, China accounted in general for the office of Panama a major deposit of wealthy clients. Mossack Fonseca, whose specialty is to create offshore companies and design complex legal arrangements, making the opaque from investments, and has offices in eight Chinese cities, according to its website. financial centers It includes Shanghai and Shenzhen, the port city Dalian, Qingdao and Ningbo, Hangzhou industrial metropolis, or, more surprisingly, Jinan, Shandong provincial capital and center of the coal industry. Nearly 50 Party officials fell to corruption in Shandong alone, according to data from the NGO Asia Society.

Hong Kong, very connected to international markets and privileged access route to mainland China , complete the list. This is also in Hong Kong that the Panamanian firm has more “intermediate” (lawyers, banks …) addressing her customers, far ahead of the UK and Switzerland, according to ICIJ. An internal census by Mossack Fonseca concluded that among its customers owners of offshore companies, the largest proportion came from mainland China, followed by Hong Kong, added the British newspaper Guardian . What question the effectiveness of anti-corruption efforts in Beijing. A report by the Chinese central bank had indeed concluded in 2011 that corrupt officials had invested abroad more than 120 billion. The authorities have since launched a massive operation called “fox hunting”, to find executives who misappropriated funds and fled abroad. Beijing also restricted drastically the amounts that individuals officially have the right to leave the country – but not always successfully, as evidenced by the recent capital outflows out of China



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