Wednesday, April 6, 2016

State Media Reports on "Panama Papers," Baidu and Sina Weibo Censor "Panama Papers"

On April 5, 2016, the state sponsored Shanghai Daily published an article entitled “Papers Reveal ‘Never-Before-Seen View Inside the Offshore World’.” Some excerpts:
The release of a vast trove of documents and data on offshore financial dealings of wealthy, famous and powerful people around the world is raising questions over the widespread use of such tactics to avoid taxes and skirt financial oversight.

Reports by an international coalition of media outlets on an investigation with the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) brought to light details of offshore assets and services of politicians, businesses and celebrities, based on a cache of 11.5 million records.

Among the countries with past or present political figures named in the reports are Iceland, Ukraine, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Argentina.
. . . .
While the “Panama Papers” detail complex financial arrangements that benefit the world’s elite, they do not necessarily mean the schemes were all illegal.
These screenshots show that the article was deleted within hours.

Original URL:

These screenshots were taken on the evening of April 4, and show that Sina Weibo was censoring search results for “Panama” and “Deng Jiagui.”

Also on April 5, the state sponsored Global Times published an article entitled “Powerful Force is Behind Panama Papers” (in Chinese “偷或编'巴拿马文件'者绝非等闲之辈” - “Those Who Stole and Published the Panama Papers are Certainly Just Average People”). Some excerpts from the English version:
The Western media has taken control of the interpretation each time there has been such a document dump, and Washington has demonstrated particular influence in it. Information that is negative to the US can always be minimized, while exposure of non-Western leaders, such as Putin, can get extra spin.

In the Internet era, disinformation poses no major risks to Western influential elites or the West. In the long-run, it will become a new means for the ideology-allied Western nations to strike a blow to non-Western political elites and key organizations.

The online disinformation makes public opinion precise strikes possible for the West, which always "digs out" materials from the so-called confidential information. Despite different interests, Western countries are close allies in ideology. This is perhaps the basis for the concept of the "West." Public opinion of different Western countries is quite uniform.
Unlike the English version, the Chinese language version appeared only in the Global Times’ print edition, and was not published online by the Global Times. 

Other news outlets in China published the Global Times' Chinese language article online, but as these screenshots show, it was quickly removed.

 These screenshots show that on April 4 Baidu was censoring search results for “Panama Papers” in English and Chinese. By April 5 Baidu was no longer showing any search results for those terms.