Premier Wen Jiabao
28 October 2012. After a detailed study of corporate and regulatory filings from 1992-2012, the New York Times (NYT) posted a report that said that many relatives of Premier Wen Jiabao, had become “extraordinarily wealthy” during his term in office. Investments by Wen’s son, wife and others spans across banking, jewellery and telecom sectors were worth at least $2.7 billion according to the newspaper. A single investment held on paper by Wen’s 90-year-old mother Yang Zhiyun – a retired schoolteacher – was worth $120m five years ago. “In many cases, the names of the relatives have been hidden behind layers of partnerships and investment vehicles involving friends, work colleagues and business partners,” the report said. Wen’s mother’s shares, and those of other relatives, were held via an investment vehicle, Taihong, run by Duan Weihong, a wealthy businesswoman close to Wen’s wife. Weihong told the Times that the investments were actually her own but she had sought a low profile so asked relatives to find other people to hold the shares on her behalf; they had by “accident” and without her knowledge chosen the prime minister’s relatives. China’s censors blocked discussion of the Times report and ensured that searches for NYT or other related terms returned no results on social networks and search engines. The English language and Chinese websites of the NYT were also blocked and reports on international television channels CNN and BBC World were also blacked out. Analysts said the report would still reach tens of millions of people despite the strict censorship imposed by the government. The report is a particular embarrassment for Premier Wen who championed anti-corruption drive and headed the reformists group which promoted transparency in the administration. The NYT report came at a time when former regional Communist Party boss Bo Xilai had been stripped of his legal immunity ahead of an expected trial, which was meant to signal a new get-tough approach on graft. It is also time the regime prepares to appoint successors to Wen and President Hu Jintao in a leadership change starting on 8 November 2012. Chinese authorities condemned the report as a smear campaign by NYT ahead of a keynote address to be delivered by Wen at the 18th Congress of the party. Authorities also blocked the Bloomberg website earlier this year after it exposed the multimillion-dollar assets held by the extended family of Xi Jinping, heir-apparent to the presidency.