China’s government has condemned an investigative report that claims relatives of many of the country’s top political leaders are hiding money in overseas tax havens.
The authorities have also been blocking websites of western newspapers carrying the story and censoring any mention of it online.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang appeared to question the motives of the journalists involved: “I don’t know the details of the situation, but from the point of view of a reader, the logic in the relevant articles is hard for people to believe, which raises suspicions on its intentions.”
Asked if the authorities would investigate the report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the spokesman said only: “Those who are clean are clean, and those who are dirty are dirty,” without elaborating.
The group behind the revelations said it wanted to shed light on “the parallel economy that can allow the powerful and well-connected to avoid taxes and keep their dealings secret.”
The websites of the Guardian, El Pais, Global Mail and Le Monde, which all carried the report, were inaccessible in China.
Censors appear to be working hard to prevent the topic being discussed on Sina Weibo, China’s popular Twitter-like microblogging service, which is already subject to heavy censorship.
Searches for sensitive words like “offshore” and “princeling” – the term for the children of senior Chinese leaders – caused the page to go blank.