Symphony of scandal: The significance of the ICIJ leaks timing
On January 22, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published an excoriating report on the extent of offshore accounts owned by China's wealthy and powerful. We illustrate how the exposé ties in with the timelines of other important ongoing stories.
The ICIJ this week has revealed that the relatives of a number of current and former members of China's top leadership have offshore bank accounts, in an unprecedented exposure for the Communist Party. While offshore accounts do not imply illegal behaviour per se, the report comes at a crucial moment in China's ongoing debate on the wealth amassed by family members of China's top leaders.
It coincides with the trial of Xu Zhiyong, the founder of the New Citizen Movement, a grass-roots campaign which has called for the declaration of assets by government officials. Xu and other members of the movement stand trial this week on charges of "assembling a crowd to disrupt public order".
Previous reports by Bloomberg and The New York Times have revealed the wealth of the families of President Xi Jinping and former premier Wen Jiabao, as company records and stock exchange filings made the obscure dealings of China's elite more transparent.