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. 

 

POLITICS

Wen quotes ancient poet to assert his integrity after wealth claim

Soon-to-retire premier quotes ancient poet in parting message after US claims that members of his family had amassed great wealth

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 November, 2012, 3:13am
 

Premier Wen Jiabao has used one of his last overseas trips before he steps down to assert his innocence after allegations about his family's "hidden wealth", saying he valued personal integrity more than his life.

In what analysts described as Wen's first public remarks on claims made by The New York Times last month, the premier quoted verses from one of China's most famous ancient poets, Qu Yuan, something he has repeatedly used to impress the public during his decade-long tenure.

"For the ideal that I hold dear to my heart, I'd not regret a thousand times to die," he told members of the Chinese community in Bangkok on Tuesday night, China News Service reported.

"For the pursuit of my innocence, I would die with honesty and integrity," he said, paraphrasing the verses. Wen said: "I want to tell everyone that I am going to retire in just a few months' time and lead a life in seclusion." The Beijing-based historian Zhang Lifan said Wen's remarks could be seen as his parting message before going into full retirement next year. "As a premier who famously cares about his reputation and his own place in history, I think Wen is trying to say loud and clear that he is innocent and all those allegations against him or his family are biased and misleading," Zhang said

Zhang said Wen was confident that he had been wrongly accused and wanted to voice his frustration about becoming the main target of criticism from Communist Party conservatives and leftists opposed to his high-profile appeals for bolder political and economic reform.

Professor Yuan Weishi, a historian at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, said Wen had reportedly demanded a central government probe into claims by the US newspaper in a report on October 26 which challenged the premier's "clean" image. Wen's family issued a legal statement a day after the report, denying allegations that his family had amassed at least US$2.7 billion of assets during his premiership.

The South China Morning Post reported early this month that the Politburo Standing Committee agreed to Wen's request and launched an internal probe.

As well as setting himself apart from most high-ranking mainland bureaucrats, "there is at least another reason why Wen repeatedly quoted poetry … he felt wronged, Yuan said. In March, Wen said: "As I have said before, I've served the country for more than 40 years. I hope everyone will forget me - that includes Chinese people and overseas Chinese. But I will never forget the motherland and the people."

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