Wen Jiabao's Family Hits Back at NY Times Report
Created: 2012-10-29 13:00 EST
It's a rare move to see from the family of a senior Communist Party leader. Close relatives of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao are retaliating after a negative foreign media report.
Last Friday, the New York Times published an article claiming Wen Jiabao's relatives control up to 2.7 billion dollars in assets and business interests—though it stopped short of accusing Wen of any wrongdoing himself.
It appears Wen Jiabao is now hitting back.
On Monday, the China's Foreign Spokesman Hong Lei confirmed rumored reports that Wen's family had hired lawyers to refute the allegations. Two lawyers from Beijing, Wang Weidong and Bai Tao, have issued a statement on behalf of the family, saying, quote, “the so-called hidden riches of Wen Jiabao’s family members mentioned in the New York Times report do not exist.”
According to the lawyers' statement, Wen's family plans to further dispute other incorrect claims. They've also not ruled out taking legal action against the New York Times.
The New York Times report comes amidst a sensitive period for Chinese leaders. It's not just the upcoming once-in-a-decade leadership transition next month. It also came on the same day that disgraced Chinese official Bo Xilai was expelled from the National People's Congress.
Some analysts believe the Times was fed information or was influenced by Bo Xilai's supporters, out of desperation ahead of Bo's impending criminal trial.
Times reporter David Barboza says his article was based on information collected since the end of last year. But three days before the article's publication, several overseas Chinese media reported that Bo Xilai's supporters provided more than 1,000 pages of detailed information about Wen's family to foreign media.
Bo Xilai's main patron is Zhou Yongkang, who controls China's courts, spy agencies, and domestic police.
[Professor Zhang Tianliang, George Mason University]:
"The moment they decided to discipline Bo Xilai was when everything was set. Zhou Yongkang and his allies have resorted to this tactic, though it won't be of any use. Zhou is probably throwing in the towel. He sees that they're about to go down, so they want to drag others down, too."