• Tue
  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 9:11pm

Wen Jiabao

Premier of China between 2003 and 2013, Wen Jiabao served as vice-premier between 1998 and 2002. Wen, who was born in 1942, spent 14 years working in Gansu province’s geological bureau before being promoted in 1982 to vice-minister of geology and mineral resources. Wen graduated from the Beijing Institute of Geology in 1968 and has a master’s degree in geology. He was a member of the Politburo Standing Committee between 2002 and 2012. 



Wen family hits back at 'lies' on hidden fortune

Lawyers for family issue unprecedented rebuttal to newspaper claims of US$2.7b in assets and deny premier's mother had US$120m investment

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 October, 2012, 2:18pm


  • Yes: 69%
  • No: 20%
  • Not sure: 11%
29 Oct 2012
  • Yes
  • No
  • Not sure
Total number of votes recorded: 522

Lawyers for Premier Wen Jiabao's family last night hit back at The New York Times for its explosive exposé about their wealth - the first time a top Chinese leader has issued a rebuttal to a foreign media report.

Two lawyers released a statement on behalf of Wen's family shortly before 11pm denying, among other things, that the premier's 90-year-old mother ever held a US$120 million investment in Ping An Insurance, a central claim of the Times' report.

In fact, the lawyers said, Wen's mother, Yang Zhiyun, had "never had other income or property" except for her government salary and pension. The claim was a critical element of the newspaper's article, which estimated that Wen's extended family controlled a fortune of at least US$2.7 billion.

"The so-called 'hidden riches' of Wen Jiabao's family members in The New York Times' report does not exist," said the statement, first obtained by the Sunday Morning Post.

The New York Times published an article on its website on Sunday defending the exposé on Wen after reading the lawyers' statement in the Post. "We are standing by our story, which we are incredibly proud of," said Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for the Times.

The lawyers, Bai Tao and Wang Weidong, said they would continue to "make clarifications regarding other untrue reports" by the newspaper and reserved the right to hold it "legally responsible". It is believed that the statement has also been sent to the Times, but the paper had not responded to a request for comment as of early this morning.

The lawyers' statement said, "Wen Jiabao has never played any role in the business activities of his family members", adding that "his family members' business activities to have any influence on his formulation and execution of policies".

Although the Times' report detailed how several companies connected to Wen's family members had benefited from state action during Wen's, it never explicitly accused the leader of intervening on their behalf. The story said it found "no indication" he had. The story also did not allege any of the activities it described could be considered illegal, saying that loopholes in regulations allow the family members of senior officials "to trade on their family name". The paper said its findings were reviewed by "outside auditors".

The lawyer's statement did not list any member of Wen's family by name and did not, for instance, respond to claims about the dealings of Wen's wife Zhang Beili's diamond empire or son Wen Yunsong's lucrative business deals with state-run enterprises like China Mobile.

"Some were engaged in business activities, but they did not carry out any illegal business activity," the lawyers' statement said. "They do not hold shares of any companies."

Political observers both in China and overseas said it was rare for Chinese state leaders to openly deny overseas media reports, but Wen was keen to protect his image as the "people's premier" and "Grandpa Wen".

" The New York Times report is very damaging to the reputation of Wen Jiabao," said Steve Tsang, a China watcher at the University of Nottingham. "What Wen Jiabao's image is domestically in China is much more important to Wen."

Statement from the lawyers for Wen Jiabao’s family

  • 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.


For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

The NYT claimed they were so proud of this story. Well, what would they say about that, that around 1-2 weeks before the puplication of the story different other big media, Wallstreet Journal, Financial Times etc. received reports and info material about this matter (not from the NYT)? The journalist of the NYT claimed she did 6 month hard working and researches, well, she did know where to look and did know where to dig to find exactly what she needs for this story. You would think this was an excellent investigative journalist work, but.....
Well, she had some help and a "deep throut" was leaking info to her and with best greetings from Bo Xi Lai. Not a very hard work after all and the NYT had serve as an instrument of revenge in a inner party struggle and fight.
I am less concerned with these details than with the fact that NYT stands by its story. That is good enough for me. The credibility of NYT vs that of the Wen family has only one result for me, although I will read reports from both parties with interest.
History has come full circle since the rotten imperial dynasty, the totally corrupt Kuomintang to the present ruling kleptocracy.
No wonder honest officials in Chinese history are legendary. They were so rare.
The rot in the system of princelings is coming out. Isn't it funny that only all those people are "by coincidence" successful in business? How can those family members drive around in luxury cars, have expensive watches, suits, houses etc.? What do they give to other Chinese as charity? We foreigners have to care for the poor Chinese through charity. What about the Chinese? They don't care. Spoiled rich brats at times.
I don't think there is an issue for political leaders to have money. The question here is whether it is legal & transparent rather than hidden away with layers and layers of people and documents.
Most political leaders, through influence and connections, all have achieved some level of monetary gain. It's a grey area and could have been handled better. It's the cronyism that people have an issue with.
Maybe he is clean as a whistle but hopefully this will serve as a reminder to other CCP top guns they are under scrutiny now more than ever. The fact remains the Chinese government is tainted scarlet with corruption and it is impeding its rise to be a global powerhouse; amongst other issues.
Wen clearly knows he faces the abyss, his white terror leading to this unprecedented direct engagement with the foreign press. But the "lawyers'" missive could hardly be less convincing. It reads little better than any other piece of Communist Party propaganda. NY Times 1, Communist Party 0.


SCMP.com Account