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China censors reports about elites' hidden funds

Access to the websites of Le Monde, The Guardian, Global Mail, El País and Süddeutsche Zeitung were blocked in China after they and other international media reported the results of research into the accounts held by members of the Chinese elite in offshore tax havens.

The entire Chinese Internet also went down for several hours after these reports appeared online.

"The Chinese government's reaction to the publication of these revelations about corruption in China is evidence of its embarrassment about information of public interest," Reporters Without Borders said. "We will do everything possible to make this information available to Chinese citizens."

The reports are based on months of detailed research by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists into the ways that the members of China's power elite use tax havens to conceal the personal wealth that they and in some cases their family members have amassed.

After the findings of this investigation were released on 21 January 2014, the Chinese authorities blocked the websites of the news media involved in the operation and ICIJ's own site. GreatFire, an NGO that specializes in monitoring online censorship in China, has compiled a list of the blocked media.

On 22 January, the US-based China Digital Times website posted the text of an Internet directive from the Chinese authorities ordering the immediate removal of all articles and posts mentioning the ICIJ investigation.

Almost all comments and links referring to the ICIJ investigation have been removed from the Chinese microblogging site SinaWeibo.

On 21 January, the day that the ICIJ's findings were released, the entire Chinese Internet suffered a well-timed massive failure that GreatFire regarded as an unsuccessful attempt to block its mirror sites. GreatFire has created a mirror of the China Digital Times site, which has also published the ICIJ's findings in English and Chinese.

Censored articles on WeFightCensorship

In order to combat this censorship, Reporters Without Borders has published Le Monde's reports on the ICIJ's findings in French and Chinese on WeFightCensorship, a website that Reporters Without Borders created in order to combat Internet blocking.

Any article posted on WeFightCensorship is instantly duplicated on other copies of this site that are hosted in locations all over the world. We invite other Internet users to participate in this project and to create WeFightCensorship mirrors on their own servers.

China is ranked 173rd out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index and is on the Reporters Without Borders list of Enemies of the Internet.

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