Monday, 20 January 2014

Grandpa Wen's Letter

Ex-premier Wen Jiabao with wife Zhang Peili (far left) with Ng Hong-mun
Former Chinese premier Wen Jiabao must not be enjoying retirement so much... he seems very concerned about his legacy even though he left office over a year ago.

He sent a hand-written letter to Ming Pao columnist Ng Hong-mun, that was published in the paper. In it Wen insisted on his innocence in a bid to try to contain the damage after a explosive article by the The New York Times that reported from publicly-available sources that his family and relatives accumulated $2.7 billion in assets during his leadership.

"I want to walk the last journey in this world well," Wen wrote. "I came to this world with bare hands and I want to leave this world clean."

It is interesting to note Wen says "I" and not "my family" or "we"... So while he may claim innocence he still isn't clear on whether his family benefited from his position in government or not.

However it is well known that his wife Zhang Peili reportedly help control the Chinese diamond market and is known as China's "Diamond Queen", while his son Wen Yunsong or Winston Wen heads one of the country's largest private equity firms.

Wen may be pressured to come clean as another former member of the Standing Committee Zhou Youkang is apparently under investigation for corruption.

Zhou's associates and former aides are currently being investigated for graft, and China watchers believe Wen is worried he may be next.

When The New York Times story came out, Wen's family threatened to sue, but did not follow through.

Columnist Ng said in an article that he befriended the former premier from his writings, and he was invited to Beijing in April 2011 for a meeting and banquet with Wen.

Ng did not say if he received permission to publish the letter.

But one can surmise that Wen was keen to send a message proclaiming his innocence without publicly saying it.

Chinese President Xi Jinping's campaign to crack down on lavish spending has sustained its momentum after over a year -- usually these exercises last a few months and things return to normal. But no one knows how long this latest one will end.

It will be a matter of time before we hear if Wen is also investigated. If that happens, the former premier's hard work of trying to cultivate the image of Grandpa Wen will be wiped out.

No one will look at him the same way again.

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