Wen Jiabao

New York Times' effort to 'smear' China 'doomed to fail'

Party mouthpiece launches attack on credibility of US daily after report of Wen family's riches

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2012, 4:06am

China yesterday warned its critics they were "doomed to failure", as Beijing confirmed the family of Premier Wen Jiabao had employed lawyers to help fight The New York Times following a report about the family's wealth.

"There are always some voices in the world that do not want to see China develop and become stronger, and they will try any means to smear China and Chinese leaders and try to sow instability in China," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said. "Your scheme is doomed to failure."

Hong was responding to questions about Wen's decision to hire lawyers to fight claims published by The New York Times last week that his family controlled assets worth US$2.7 billion.

"Premier Wen Jiabao's family has entrusted lawyers to release a statement and will continue to clarify the report," the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, though mainland media have remained silent about Friday's report, the Communist Party's mouthpiece has begun attacking the credibility of The New York Times.

In a column posted on the People's Daily website, the paper's former international news editor Ren Yujun noted that Mark Thompson, the former BBC director general and next chief executive of the Times, was being "challenged" amid a sex scandal involving the late BBC host Jimmy Savile.

Yesterday, Ren wrote another article headlined, "The New York Times' reputation tarnished by scandals in recent years", recalling episodes including the probe of former Times reporter Jayson Blair, who fabricated and plagiarised dozens of reports.

Friday's New York Times article came at an especially sensitive time as the party strives to clean house before the handover of power next month. Several retired party leaders have recently made public appearances in an effort to assert their influence.

Tsinghua University's business school said yesterday former premier Zhu Rongji and Vice-Premier Wang Qishan met the school's advisory board on Wednesday in Beijing. Zhu is the school's founding dean, while Wang, a front runner to advance to the Politburo Standing Committee, is an honorary member of the board.