BEIJING – Reports based on documents leaked from a Panama-based law firm that name relatives of current and retired Chinese politicians, including President Xi Jinping, as owning offshore companies are "groundless," China's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
Spokesman Hong Lei said he would not comment further on the reports and declined to say whether the individuals named would be investigated.
"For these groundless accusations, I have no comment," Hong told reporters at a regularly scheduled news conference.
Internet censors and state media outlets, meanwhile, ignored or actively squelched reports on the revelations. Searches for articles on websites and social media postings featuring the words "Panama documents" could not be opened Tuesday to view their content.
The blocking was not total, however, with some searches for Panama-related news resulted in stories mentioning soccer player Lionel Messi and others featured in the documents not related to China.
The nationalistic tabloid Global Times published an editorial saying an unidentified "powerful force" was behind the document leak. It said the main targets were opponents of the West, especially Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"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 U.S. can always be minimized, while exposure of non-Western leaders, such as Putin, can get extra spin," said the newspaper published by the party's flagship People's Daily.
The paper made no mention of any involvement by Chinese figures.
The reports by an international coalition of media outlets working with the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, or ICIJ, are based on documents from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, one of the world's biggest creators of shell companies.
A lack of legal guarantees in China has motivated many of the country's newly wealthy to hide their riches through complicated legal arrangements placing them beyond the reach of the authorities.
The ICIJ said Mossack Fonseca had arranged offshore companies for relatives of at least eight present or past members of the Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee, the apex of power in China. Among those it mentioned was Xi's brother-in-law.