Lawyers who said they represented the family of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao challenged a recent New York Times article that sought to expose the finances of the family, faxing a letter to a Hong Kong newspaper recently.
The South China Morning Post published the letter on Oct. 28, two days after The New York Times article. The letter denied, among other things, that the premier’s 90-year-old mother ever held a $120 million investment in Ping An Insurance, a central claim of The Times’ report.
“The alleged hidden riches of Wen Jiabao’s relatives that The New York Times published do not exist,” the statement said.
It acknowledged that some family members engaged in business activities, “but did not carry out any illegal business activity.” It said that they do not hold shares of any companies.
“Other relatives of Wen Jiabao and the friends and colleagues of those relative are responsible for all their own business activities,” the letter said, adding that the lawyers may later hold the newspaper “legally responsible” for its reportage.
In an Oct. 27 article about Wen Jiabao’s family’s response, The New York Times did not indicate that it had received a copy of the letter. The letter appears to have only been sent or faxed to Hong Kong media, including Ming Pao and South China Morning Post.
Ming Jing, a Chinese media outside China, quoted a close associate of Wen Jiabao saying that Wen may rebut all the allegations in detail, and ask his family to come clean on the details, “even if I were to be sacrificed.”
According to The Guardian on Oct. 29, foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters: “It is confirmed that Premier Wen’s family has employed a lawyer to release the statement. We will continue to clarify the report.”
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