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Politics & Law

China: Wen Jiabao “hidden riches” don’t exist, say lawyers

Wen Jiabao and Wife

Lawyers for Wen Jiabao, China‘s Premier, have taken the unprecedented step of issuing a written statement late last night rebuking the claims of the New York Times that Wen’s family have amassed a hidden fortune worth US$2.7 billion.

In a letter sent to the New York Times and the South China Morning Post, Bai Tao and Wang Weidong, lawyers for the family, state:

  • The so-called “hidden riches” of Wen Jiabao’s family members in The New York Times’ report does not exist.
  • Some of Wen Jiabao’s family members have not engaged in business activities. Some were engaged in business activities, but they did not carry out any illegal business activity. They do not hold shares of any companies.
  • The mother of Wen Jiabao, except receiving salary/pension according to the regulation, has never had any income or property.
  • Wen Jiabao has never played any role in the business activities of his family members, still less has he allowed his family members’ business activities to have any influence on his formulation and execution of policies.
  • Other relatives of Wen Jiabao and the “friends” and “colleagues” of those relative are responsible for all their own business activities.
  • We will continue to make clarifications regarding untrue reports by The New York Times, and reserve the right to hold it legally responsible.

The move to publicly challenge the claims is highly unusual, being the first time a top Chinese minister has formally rebutted foreign media, and likely reflects how highly Wen regards his reputation as ‘Grandpa Wen‘ of the people.

A much discussed  U.S. diplomatic cable posted in Wikileaks has been touted as evidence that Wen knew of his family’s wealth. In the alleged cable, he was apparently “disgusted” by his wife and children riding on his name. However, other U.S. cables posted by wikilinks have also alleged that he had an affair with a TV presenter younger than his daughter, and that he was out of favour with [then] prime minister Jiang Zemin, neither of which have been confirmed.

As yet, the New York Times hasn’t responded to Wen’s lawyers, its last published piece on the story covering the censorship of its article in China. Critics in the West have been quick to highlight the censorship of the article, however the move is common practice in China .

The New York Times report is very damaging to the reputation of Wen Jiabao,” said Steve Tsang, of University of Nottingham, UK. “What Wen Jiabao’s image is domestically in China is much more important to Wen.”

Source: SCMP “Wen family hits back at ‘lies’ on hidden fortune”

About Dan Green

World watcher, aspiring academic and a struggling learner of Mandarin Editor/writer: alleyeseast.wordpress.com

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