Chinese Premier’s first public response to New York Times report

Wen Jiabao

According to Singtao Daily, regarding the report earlier that his family has huge wealth, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao quoted Qu Yuan’s Li Sao (the greatest poem by one of the three greatest Chinese poets) “Stick to purity and die for righteousness, For this was what the ancient sages taught.”

He made the quote when he met overseas Chinese in Thailand to stress, “For my own purity, I will die in honesty and uprightness even if I die.” Wen also said that he would soon retire to “be away from official life” and “hope people will forget me.”

“Comrades and compatriots, this is the last time I meet so many compatriots in an area where Chinese people converge.” Wen Jiabao said that on November 20, when he visited Thailand after attending the East Asia Summit.

He met several hundred overseas Chinese in the evening, and mentioned on his own in his speech that he will retire in a few months “from official life”. He said, “I want to express my sincere gratitude through you to the Chinese and overseas Chinese all over the world.”

Regarding the coming end in March of his 10-year tenure as the premier, Wen Jiabao said, “I always feel that there remain quite a lot of things I have not completed and quite a few things I have not done satisfactorily. But we often read silently in our minds the two passages in Qu Yuan’s Li Sao. One is ‘Since such purity is what I love, I’d not regret a thousand deaths for it.’

“The other is ‘Stick to purity and die for righteousness, For this was what the ancient sages taught.’” Wen read the verses slowly and repeated ‘Stick to purity and die for righteousness, For this was what the ancient sages taught.’

“The two passages mean that in pursuing truth, I would not regret even if I have to die a thousand times.” Wen stopped for a while when he had said that. The audience responded with applause. He then said in the tone with profound feeling that he always adopts, “For one’s own purity, one has to die in honesty and uprightness even if one has to die.” The audience responded with thunderous applause again.

In the end, Wen said, “I once said that I have devoted to my country for over 40 years. I hope people, including Chinese and overseas Chinese, will forget me. However, I will never forget my motherland and people, never forget millions of overseas Chinese.”

The above was the first time Wen Jiabao claimed his purity and indirectly denied New York Times’ report in public since the New York Times published a report on Wen’s family having huge hidden wealth on October 26. Chinese official media have not reported the content of Wen’s speech when he met overseas Chinese. Only Thai Chinese media such as reported that with video footages of the speech.

On October 26, the New York Times published a front-page report on Wen’s family’s huge wealth worth more than US$2.7 billion including his 90-year mother’s shares in Pinan Insurance worth US$120 million in 2007.

Wen’s family issued through their lawyers a public “Authorized Statement,” stressing that there was no so-called “hidden wealth” and his mother has no property at all, that Wen’s family members are not engaged in any illegal business activities nor hold any share in any company and that they reserve the right to hold New York Times legally liable.

Categories: Politics & Law

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3 replies


  1. Did news story on riches of China’s Premier weaken reformists? « China Daily Mail
  2. Premier Wen shows China’s best face to the world « China Daily Mail

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