The Associated Press
BEIJING, China (AP) — Lawyers have denied a report that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s family has amassed $2.7 billion in “hidden riches,” a Hong Kong newspaper said Sunday.
The New York Times said in an article that most of the alleged wealth was accumulated by Wen’s relatives after he rose to high office in 2002.
Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper published a letter Sunday, Oct. 28 it said was written by two lawyers for Wen’s family, saying that The Times’ report was untrue. It said family members do not hold shares in any companies and that Wen has never been involved in his family’s business activities.
A spokeswoman for The Times, Eileen Murphy, said the newspaper was “standing by our story, which we are incredibly proud of.”
In an article Saturday reporting on the lawyers’ statement, The Times said its earlier article did not allege any illegal business activity.
“The article pointed out that as prime minister in a country where the state plays a large role in the economy, Mr. Wen oversaw many government officials whose decisions could play a large role in the fortunes of businesses and investors,” it said.
Recent foreign media reports about wealth accumulated by Chinese leaders and their families have added to tensions as China prepares for a once-a-decade leadership transfer.
In particular, The Times’ report is a blow to Wen’s reputation as a politician concerned with bettering the lives of ordinary Chinese.
Chinese authorities have blocked The Times’ English and Chinese-language website. Searches for the names of Wen, his wife, and son on China’s popular Weibo microblogging site also were blocked. (end)