Outgoing Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao addresses the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC). Image credit: Xinhua.
Former Chinese premier Wen Jiabao has issued what appears to be his first public denial of accusations surrounding the $2.7 billion fortune accumulated by his family members during his 10 years in power.
The written denial comes over a year after The New York Times published an investigative story revealing Wen’s family’s “hidden treasures”, a report which landed the Times and its Shanghai bureau chief David Barboza a Pulitzer Prize and resulted in the online publication being blocked in China.
“I have never been involved and would not get involved in one single deal of abusing my power for personal gain because no such gains whatsoever could shake my convictions,” Wen was quoted as saying in a letter published by Ming Pao, a Hong Kong-based newspaper, on Saturday.
The comments reportedly came from a personal letter Wen had written in December to his friend, a columnist for Ming Pao and a former delegate of China’s National People’s Congress, according to the Telegraph.
“I want to walk the last journey in this world well. I came to this world with bare hands and I want to leave this world clean,” Mr Wen wrote.
The belated statement addressing the accusations has been seen as highly unusual, and it’s unclear whether or not Wen requested for the letter to be public. Media have speculated that the timing may have something to do with the mounting investigation of former politician Zhou Yongkang, who has been implicated in a major corruption case that could lead to his downfall.
“I think the point of Wen Jiabao’s letter is to pre-empt innuendo and speculation that he might be the next to go, after Zhou Yongkang.” William Lam, a politics expert from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said to AFP.