After it was revealed that Chinese President Xi Jinping's family hid money in overseas banks, China's government cracked-down on any discussion the scandal on the internet in the tightly monitored country.
Mentions of the "Panama Papers" scandal on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging site that has 100 million users, suddenly disappeared today. Chinese internet users scrambled to continue the discussion by using variations of the words, but were quickly routed by Chinese censors who deleted their comments.
The scandal is particularly dangerous to the Communist Party because it involves China's President, Xi Jinping, who has run a public campaign on government corruption in the country.
Over the weekend, a trove of 2.6 terabytes were leaked and revealed how individuals and companies concealed their identities to setup 214,000 offshore companies through Mossack Fonseca, a law firm based in Panama with offices in more than 35 countries. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung operated the expose. The director of Mossack Fonseca, Ramon Fonseca, confirmed there was a hack on their database.
ICIJ stated that it is not clear what activity from the data points to illegal behavior. The implications, though, will have an impact on the citizens whose politicians are funneling money through shadow companies.
So far, the hacked data reveals Xi Jinping's brother-in-law founded two companies in the British Virgin Islands in 2009. Li Xiaolin, the daughter of former Chinese premier Li Peng and grandaughter of Jia Qinglin, a high-ranking Communist Party official, have also been discovered in the leaks.
More than 140 political figures around the globe have been implicated in the data hack, including associates of Vladimir Putin, prime ministers of Iceland and Pakistan, and the king of Saudi Arabia. ICIJ reported Putin's associates filtered more than $2bn through shadow companies.
China's single-party government allows citizens to use the internet but heavily regulates speech in order to preserve the Communist Party's power. Many foreign websites are blocked in the country, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Google.
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