Wen Jiabao

Article on 'humble' Wen reappears amid rumours he is next graft target

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 January, 2014, 4:51am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 January, 2014, 4:58pm

A lengthy article about former premier Wen Jiabao's family roots written more than a decade ago has reappeared on the website of the Communist Party's mouthpiece.

The move is seen as an attempt by Wen to clear his name amid speculation he will become the next target of the leadership's anti-corruption drive.

The article originally appeared in a magazine on the party's history in 2003, soon after Wen began his first term as premier, and was reposted to the website of the People's Daily yesterday.

The article gives a detailed account of the Wen family, conveying the impression of his humble upbringing.

It tells how Wen was sent to Jiuquan , in Gansu province, during the Cultural Revolution and returned to Beijing in 1982.

It said Wen was constantly reminded by his uncle Wen Pengjiu, a former Foreign Ministry official, that his mission was to ensure that all Chinese had enough food, and to build China into a prosperous nation.

Wen was quoted as saying in the article of his maiden press conference as premier in March 2003 that he was merely a "common" person who had seen hardship during his upbringing.

The reposting of the article came two days after the publication in Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao of a letter written by Wen to Ng Hon-mun, a former local deputy to the National People's Congress, in which Wen insisted on his innocence and integrity.

In the letter, dated December 27, Wen said he had never abused his power for personal gain.

The former premier has faced mounting pressure over allegations about his family's wealth at a time when another former member of the party's supreme Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang , is at the centre of a wide-ranging probe into corruption. Dozens of Zhou's former aides and associates are being investigated after President Xi Jinping launched a massive anti-graft campaign that has targeted progressively senior officials.

The reputation of Wen, who retired last March, was brought into question after The New York Times reported in October 2012 that his family and relatives had amassed US$2.7 billion of hidden assets during his leadership.

"The publication of the letter and reposting of the article is an attempt to deliver a message that Wen is being smeared and that he is not involved in any scam," said Gu Su , professor of political science at Nanjing University. "It seems Wen believes he is under attack, and wants to hit back."

Zhang Lifan, a Beijing-based commentator, said the development showed Wen "is very worried about his reputation and is eager to clear himself when the anti-corruption drive gets running".