China silencing Panama Papers talk online

President Xi Jinping's brother-in-law was among those named in the data leak.

China silencing Panama Papers talk online

Screenshot taken from FreeWeibo.com, which tracks censorship on Sina Weibo

Chinese news editors have received directives from an internet watchdog demanding that they find and delete reprinted reports on the Panama Papers.

One provincial order, which has been leaked the China Digital Times, said:

"Find and delete reprinted reports on the Panama Papers. Do not follow up on related content, no exceptions.

"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".

Aside from revelations relating to Chinese officials, a second directive from the same watchdog also demanded that an article focusing on the offshore financial dealings of people close to Russian President Vladimir Putin be removed from a website.

The close scrutiny of Chinese news outlets on Tuesday follows yesterday's widespread deletion of social media posts on the global document leak.

Hundreds of related posts disappeared from popular sites such as Sina Weibo and WeChat.

At one point on Monday afternoon, Sina Weibo's topic page for "#PanamaPapers" was completely bare, with the BCC reporting that over 481 discussions had been blocked.

The document leak, which gives extensive, decades-old details on how the global elite used the services of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca to hide their wealth in tax havens, specifically named the brother-in-law of Chinese Xi Jinping.

Deng Jiagui, who is married to Xi's older sister, is described in the Panama Papers as having acquired two now-dormant offshore companies in 2009 for unspecified reasons.

Deng did not respond to requests for comment from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the global group who broke the news.

Other noteworthy members of the Chinese elite named included the daughter of former premier Li Peng and the granddaughter of a high-ranking former official.

What you need to know about the Panama Papers