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Friday, October 26, 2012

New York Times joins FaceBook and others blocked from access in China


Family Of China's Premier Is 

Really, Really Rich 

- China Doesn't Want 

People To Know


An explosive report from the New York Times today spelled 
out just how wealthy the relatives of Chinese prime minister 
Wen Jiabao are.Try $2.7 billion dollars in assets. This 
startling news so angered Chinese officials that the Times
website was quickly shut down in China.
Chinese premier Wen Jiabao.
Chinese premier Wen Jiabao.
Andy Wong/AP
The lengthy report says Wen's 
children, brother, brother-in-law, 
wife and mother became 
"extraordinarily wealthy" after 
he ascended to top levels of power, 
starting in 1998. Some family assets 
include real estate developments, 
factories, an insurance service 
corporation and a private equity firm.
There are family interests described
in banks, resorts, telecommunications firms and even jewelers. Wen's 
relatives appear to be trading on their connections, especially 
the premier's enormous power over big industries they've 
invested in, such as energy.
The portrait of the premier's relatives is very different from 
the one Wen has projected of himself over the past decade, 
NPR's Louisa Lim told Newscasts: "Premier Wen Jiabao 
is known as Grandpa Wen, the leader with the common touch 
who visits disaster sites and who caused a sensation by 
wearing the same down jacket over a ten year-period."
The report looks closely at Wen's wife, Zhang Beili, perhaps 
one of the most influential people in China's diamond and 
gem industry. A skilled businesswoman, she accumulated 
wealth and power, and helped family members do the same. 
There's no evidence Wen did anything to bolster her work 
but the story says part of the family's success came from 
investors who most wanted to please the premier.
Wen has cast himself as a reformer who's against 
government corruption, and has called for stronger financial 
disclosure rules for public officials. The Times notes in 2007, 
Wen repeated a call for senior government officials to fight 
graft: "They should strictly ensure that their family members, 
friends and close subordinates do not abuse government 
influence."
But there don't seem to be any financial disclosures from Wen himself. The Times says most of the $2.7 billion dollar 
investments it found were held by in-laws, his mother, his 
brother, and the parents of his daughter-in-law. These 
investments don't have to be publically identified, according to Communist party rules.
China's censors quickly squelched the Times story within 
a couple of hours after its publication. The Washington Post 
notes any media outlet, such as the BBC, that referred to 
the 'New York Times' was also quickly blocked in China. 
There's heightened sensitivity over Wen's image, because 
Chinese leaders will transfer power to a new generation of 
officials.
There's already been embarrassing controversy over senior 
Chinese government leader Bo Xilai, whose wife was 
convicted in the murder of a British businessman. Bo, who's 
been forced out of governmentand out of the Communist 
party, is himself accused of corruption, taking bribes and 
abusing power. Bo had once been a candidate for top office.

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