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Posted on Jan 22, 2014

Flattering profile on Li Xiaolin, ex-premier’s daughter, draws flak amid ChinaLeaks revelations

Wednesday, 22 January, 2014, 12:19pm

Newspaper article saying Li was ‘charming’ and ‘born with a mission’ to run her company generates criticism after she is implicated for holding offshore accounts in tax havens

Li Xiaolin, the daughter of former Chinese premier Li Peng who now heads China Power International Development (CPI),  was “born with a mission” to run the Hong Kong-listed company, state newspaper China Enterprises reported this week. [1]

The flattering piece, however, drew fierce criticism on Wednesday as Li Xiaolin’s name appeared in a tax-haven report by investigative journalists [2] which revealed the secret offshore holdings of the close relatives of China’s current or former top leaders. The flow of illicit capital is said to have an impact on the Chinese economy by widening corruption and inequality.

The report, published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), revealed that Li  was the director of Tianwo Holdings and Tianwo Development, both set up in the British Virgin Islands, a well-known tax haven, in 2005 [2].

Li Xiaolin did not respond to the ICIJ’s repeated requests for comment, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the highly positive newspaper profile of Li Xiaolin drew sarcastic remarks from China’s internet users after it was picked up by influential publications including the Southern Metropolis Daily [3], which rewrote its headline to highlight the “born with a mission” comment from the original report.

“This charming, petite woman seems to have been born with a mission to run the Chinese power behemoth that’s worth multibillions [in] yuan,” read the China Enterprisereport.

“Her strong engineering background and persistent entrepreneurial spirit have made her stand out among executives of Chinese enterprises.”

The article went on to elaborate on Li Xiaolin’s achievements and her future ambitions, including building “smart cities” that epitomise the “Chinese Dream” – a catchphrase by current President Xi Jinping.

The story was written after a reporter interviewed Li on Saturday in Beijing, it explained.

A majority of netizens on Wednesday dismissed the profile, which also said Li had “starry” and “angel-like” eyes, saying the account was “a**-kissing” and “disgusting”.

“If she is indeed an angel, then please go back to heaven and leave us alone,” wrote a microblogger.

Li Xiaolin was accused in October of brokering a secret multimillion-British-pound deal that helped Zurich Insurance break into the lucrative Chinese market, years before foreign companies were allowed to make such investments in China.

However, Li later dismissed these allegations. [4]

Read more China Insider stories by Amy Li [5] or follow her on Twitter [6]

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