POLITICS

Chinese vice-president Li Yuanchao hits back at rumours he is target of looming graft probe

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 January, 2015, 6:22pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 January, 2015, 9:48am

Vice-President Li Yuanchao has hit back at rampant speculation that he is poised to be the target of a corruption investigation, telling a gathering in Beijing that he is a victim of overseas online rumours.

Li made the unusually direct remarks at a meeting in the capital of more than 400 delegates of the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese, according to Tian Bingxin, the former chairman of the Hong Kong-based Sing Pao Daily News and founder of news website hkmnews.com

Li, whose portfolio includes Hong Kong affairs, also commented on Hong Kong's Occupy Central movement, saying the central government's struggles against the pro- democracy movement were not over and "the really interesting part of the show is yet to come".

The remarks were first reported by hkmnews.com however they were not carried by state media.

Li has been under pressure as rumours have gathered pace overseas that he is implicated in several scandals.

Among the scandals is the ongoing storm that has enveloped the beleaguered Founder Group.

Some overseas websites have alleged that Li's son, Li Haijin, accepted the gift of a luxury home in the Japanese city of Kyoto from former Founder chief executive Li You .

The company has said Li You was "assisting authorities with an investigation".

"Li specifically mentioned the rumours about the Kyoto house when he met the 400-plus federation delegates, 74 of whom were from Hong Kong and Macau," Tian, who was at the meeting, told the South China Morning Post yesterday.

"Li said the [anti-graft] authorities went to Kyoto to investigate, finding that there was such a luxury house but it was owned by a Hong Kong businessman and not Li Yuanchao."

Tian quoted Li as saying, "There were a lot of rumours spreading on overseas websites, but no one cares about whether they are true or not.

"Overseas people tend to believe such rumours but none of them listen to me when I stand up to deny it."

Caixin magazine reported that the house was owned by Zhang Songyi, a former managing director of Morgan Stanley's Hong Kong operations, and his wife.

According to Tian, Li also told the meeting that the organisers of Occupy Central did not achieve their goals, and that the central government, the Hong Kong authorities and other opponents of the movement had won this stage.

The vice-president's comments came two months after the last of three main sit-in zones by the Occupy movement in the city was cleared after a 79-day campaign.

Tian said the vice-president also expressed concern about the behaviour of young people during the civil disobedience movement. He called on the federation to come up with more strategies and support for the "anti-Occupy Central struggle".