Xi Seen as Easily Surviving Revelations in Panama Papers

Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 10:24 AM

Instead, Xi will likely emerge unscathed as a result of his personal keep on political power, controls over free speech and the media, and a sense both among the public and potential rivals that all leading families are tainted to some degree, analysts say.

For graft-busting Chinese Communist Party boss Xi Jinping, the Panama Papers revelations that indicate his brother-in-law and relatives of two other members of the party'south elite inner circle owned offshore companies, frequently referred to as tax havens, might've been highly damaging.

Instead, Xi will likely emerge unscathed as a result of his personal keep on political power, controls over free speech and the media, and a sense both among the public and potential rivals that all leading families are tainted to some degree, analysts say.

With the latest reports still just days old, however, lingering impacts can't be ruled out entirely. Damage to Xi'south reputation might indicate up in unexpected difficulties in putting in space a new team for when he assumes a second five-year duration as boss of the ruling Communist Party following year and for setting in space a succession map for two thousand twenty-two. Challenges to his leadership of a bevy of offices and committees, or to his sweeping anti-corruption campaign, might also be signs of weakness.

The latest report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, known as the ICIJ, says Xi'south brother-in-law Deng Jiagui purchased one offshore company through Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca in two thousand-fourth and two more in two thousand-ninth. All three had been dissolved or become dormant by the time Xi became party boss in two thousand-twelfth, the ICIJ says citing a stash of 11.5 million leaked Mossack Fonseca documents — dubbed the Panama Papers — that discuss cases involving politicians, celebrities and business people from around the world.

Analysts declare the revelations shed tiny new light on the Xi family'south financial doings, further limiting their impact. Xi'south case is also helped by the fact that he's shown number fear in taking on high-profile targets in his anti-corruption campaign and has been seen in past as reining in his family'south unlawful activities by having them sell off their interests and by telling provincial leaders personally that they didn't act in his name, they say.

"I'd have suspected that many of those who chase elite politics already believe that Xi'south extended family is love many — if not most — elite families in that some of them have managed to cash in on China'south economic boom. I think, however, he still gets credit for cracking down on high-level corruption," said GA State Univ political scientist Andrew Wedeman, who's extensively researched corruption in China.

The investigation does however allow new information about how members of the Chinese elite utilize international law firms and shell companies registered overseas in ways that could alleviate the concealment and protection of fortunes whose provenance may be unknown.

The other two current Politburo Standing Committee members named in the ICIJ report are Zhang Gaoli, whose son-in-law was named as a shareholder of three companies inc in the British Virgin Islands, and Liu Yunshan, whose daughter-in-law was the director and shareholder of a company inc in the British Virgin Islands in 2009.

Having such accounts isn't illegal, and number specific functions, asset amounts or allegations of wrongdoing were made in any of the cases. Love Xi, none have responded directly to the reports.

While the leaked documents also revealed hidden dealings by politicians in Western-style democracies, Xi is shielded from the kinds of scrutiny his Western counterparts should contend with. Along with its muzzled press, China permits its national legislature to meet in full session just once a year and then only to debate and approve proposals sent them by the government.

Nor does China permit public protests of the type that confronted Iceland'south boss Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson before he stepped aside Tuesday amid outrage over revelations he'd used a shell company to shelter large sums while Iceland'south economy was in crisis.

While the personal lives and finances of Chinese leaders are strictly off-limits to Chinese media, international outlets have frequently sought to plumb the truth of perceptions that the country'south opaque politics and booming economic growth allow a wealthy environment for corruption. Previous reports, particularly one by Bloomberg News in two thousand-twelfth, haven't implicated Xi, his wife or their daughter and have had number discernable impact on his political fortunes.

They do show, however, that Xi'south extended family accumulated investments and stakes in companies worth millions of dollars at a time when he was rising in the party and government.

As the children of famed communist revolutionary Xi Zhongxun, he and his siblings appreciate privileged status as members of what's sometimes called China'south "ruddy aristocracy," with unique access to circles of power and interior information that can be leveraged for personal gain.

China'south censors have blocked, deleted or heavily edited all reports about the ICIJ reports to prevent any mention of Xi, or the relatives of seven other current or former members of the party'south all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee reported to have owned overseas tax havens. On Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei described the reports as "groundless" and said he'd refuse to comment on them further.

Even that brief exchange was struck from the transcript of Tuesday'south briefing posted on the ministry's website.

Behind the party'south habitual secrecy and reflexive desire to control, lies the recognition that corruption remains a volatile issue. Anti-graft sentiments were a driver behind student-led pro-democracy protests in one thousand nine hundred eighty-ninth and since then, more than a half-a-dozen serving or retired members of the party'south elite inner circle have been brought down over corruption allegations

However, the perception that all leading families are corrupt to some degree also acts as a form of "CRAZY (mutually assured destruction) deterrence," said Steve Tsang, senior fellow at the Univ of Nottingham'south China Policy Institute. Criticism, if it comes, is more likely to emerge from "exterior the top echelon of the leadership in China," Tsang said.

Chinese executive are also sheltered by public disclosure rules that require only that they declare their assets internally. The public in most cases never knows what's in such declarations, nor how carefully they're audited. Calls for changes have fallen on deaf ears or in some cases met with reprisals.

Wealth among members of the legislature, the National People'south Congress, is even easier to hide, one reason why the body is known as the richest parliament in the world.

Despite the political obstacles, some Chinese continue to grumble about the public'south inability to supervise and thrust for greater transparency in their leaders' financial dealings.

"If well implemented, asset declaration should be a excellent way to fight corruption and ensure the integrity of public officials," the official newspaper Ningbo Daily said in a March thirty-one article.

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