Date
19 January 2017
Relatives of senior Chinese officials including Jia Qinglin, Deng Xiaoping and Zhang Gaoli (from left) controlled offshore firms in Panama, according to leaked documents cited by local media. At least seven have Hong Kong identity cards. Photos: Xinhua, R
Relatives of senior Chinese officials including Jia Qinglin, Deng Xiaoping and Zhang Gaoli (from left) controlled offshore firms in Panama, according to leaked documents cited by local media. At least seven have Hong Kong identity cards. Photos: Xinhua, R

Cadres’ relatives have permanent Hong Kong IDs: Panama Papers

At least seven spouses or children of sitting and former senior Chinese officials hold Hong Kong identity cards, according to leaked documents from the Panama Papers.

They include Zhang Xiaoyan, daughter of Zhang Gaoli (張高麗), the incumbent Chinese first vice premier and a member of the politburo standing committee of the Communist Party, Ming Pao Daily reports.

Jia Liqing, daughter of Jia Chunwang (賈春旺), former procurator general whose father-in-law is politburo member Liu Yunshan, also has a Hong Kong ID.

Also mentioned were Li Xiaobing, a niece of the late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平), and her husband Yu Yiping.

Li Botan and his daughter Li Zidan, son-in-law and granddaughter, respectively, of Jia Qinglin (賈慶林), formerly the fourth-ranking member of the politburo, are also in the group, as well as Li Xiaoling, a daughter of former premier Li Peng (李鵬).

Some have permanent resident IDs, suggesting they have lived in Hong Kong for a long time, perhaps since before the 1997 handover to China, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the declassified documents show that Li Zidan acquired an offshore company from Hengdeli Holdings Ltd. (03389.HK) founder Zhang Yuping for US$1 when she was a student in Hong Kong, Next Magazine reports.

Zhang, who has close ties with Jia Qinglin, founded the company in 2009 and sold it to Li Zidan a year later.

Zhang started as a state enterprise employee before he founded a watches and clocks business in 1993.

In 1997, he acquired shares of Hengdeli, marking a period of rapid growth for his company which eventually obtained a Hong Kong listing in 2005.

Jia was mayor of Beijing and party secretary of the capital from 1997 to 2002.

The documents also show that Li Botan has been living with a woman named Joanna Lam Ching for many years, according to news website hk01.com.

Lam has been writing cheques to pay for the annual fees of Li’s offshore companies, the website says.

When approached by Ming Pao Daily in her Yuen Long home, Zhang Xiaoyan would not say whether she is related to Zhang Gaoli and when she became a Hong Kong resident.

Li Xiaolin, Jia Liqing, Yu Yiping, Li Xiaobing, Li Botan and Li Zidan could not be reached for comment.

Political commentator Johnny Lau said it’s difficult to know why these relatives of national leaders came to live in Hong Kong.

Some of them might simply want to leverage the convenience of visa-free travel for holders of Hong Kong passports, he said.

He said others might have been enticed by Hong Kong’s simpler tax regime.

Many domestic and overseas businesses are eager to recruit them as partners and consultants because of their powerful connections, he said.

Lau said some of them might have come on a political mission.

He said they could be recipients of some of the 150 one-way permits reportedly issued by Chinese authorities before 1997.

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