Friday, 26 October 2012

Wen's Family Wealth Exposed

One wonders how Wen is going to wriggle his way out of this
The Chinese government is furious to find The New York Times has published an expose on Premier Wen Jiabao's family and how they have financially benefited from his position.

It's a long story you can read here, and it details the many relatives including his 90-year-old mother who have made substantial gains worth $2.7 billion from public records between 1992-2012.

There was lots of research into companies and sometimes family members were not directly named but through layers of partnerships in various companies. The premier's name was not found in any documents.

Of course the main players -- Wen's wife Zhang Beili, son Winston Wen Yunsong, son-in-law and daughter -- did not comment for the article except for his daughter-in-law who claimed stories about Winston Wen were false and that he wasn't as active in business anymore.

In any event China's Foreign Ministry commented today on the story saying, "Some reports smear China and have ulterior motives," said spokesman Hong Lei.

The report confirms long-time rumours about Wen's family wealth, though it's not certain he knew the extent of the amount gained through his political standing. He is known to have been disgusted at how they benefited from him, and according to the article, at one point wanted to divorce his wife because she took advantage of his position.

That's because Wen is keen to set his legacy as "Grandpa Wen", the personable leader who rushed to disaster scenes to comfort victims and often met with laobaixing or common people. He also wants to be remembered as a reformer, warning officials to keep their wealth in check, but now it seems his own family cannot hide it much longer, causing him to lose much face.

Many believe the anonymous sources criticizing Wen and his family were former Chongqing Party chief Bo Xilai's allies, hoping to get a last dig at the Premier before the 18th National People's Congress set to start November 8 in Beijing.

The publication of the story coincides with Bo being expelled from his post as a deputy of the National People's Congress, thus paving the way for him to lose immunity and be taken to court on various charges including abuse of power, bribe-taking and improper relations with women.

Currently top leaders cannot be charged of anything unless they are first stripped of their positions and membership to the Communist Party of China.

No wonder they and their families take advantage of this immunity and position to get as much as they can take.

It's interesting how The New York Times reporters and in particular David Barboza took advantage of the sharp rift within party ranks over what to do with Bo to get more information about Wen.

This clearly indicates there are deep divisions within the Party and people are not happy with how Bo's fate has changed so dramatically compared to this past spring.

The ironic thing is that Wen and Bo's families have both amassed great wealth, but did it in different ways. However, Bo's wife Gu Kailai was caught having murdered Briton Neil Heywood which unraveled the web of their wealth mostly transferred overseas which led to his downfall.

Nevertheless we applaud the NYT for this investigative piece and hope the punishment it gets from China is swift and not too damaging.

Bloomberg has already paid the price for uncovering the massive wealth of Vice President Xi Jinping's family with this story. Not only was the website blocked, but practically all state companies refused to buy Bloomberg's terminals to get up-to-date financial information or mysteriously cancelled meetings with Bloomberg staff at the last minute.

Foreign media know the price of doing investigative journalism in China. And they felt the story weighed too much in favour of the public's need-to-know to publish it.

We thank them for their hard work and hope they continue to uncover more untold riches by other officials' families.

In this way we hope the Chinese government will be forced to reform its ways because since state media is gagged, who else dares to speak out?


  1. Hi there --

    Seen this?

  2. Yeah my friend in Beijing told me the website was blocked this morning... one wonders how long they will block it for...