Winston Wen or Wen Yunsong, the only son of Wen Jiabao. (Internet photo)
Wen Yunsong, the son of China's premier, Wen Jiabao, has retained lawyers to defend members of the premier's family against allegations that they made fortunes off the back of his position and influence, reports the Hong Kong-based newspaper Ming Pao.
Wang Weidong of Grandall Law Firm confirmed on Oct. 29 that he and Bai Tao from Jun He Law Offices have been retained Wen Yunsong, who also goes by the name of Winston Wen. The two Beijing lawyers were contacted to represent the Wen family after the New York Times published an article last week claiming that the family controlled at least US$2.7 billion in assets, most of which was accumulated after Wen was named vice premier in 1998 and ascended to the premiership in 2003.
While most legal analysts believe the chances of litigation against the New York Times are low, Wang, who holds a master of law degree from the University of Minnesota, said they are still analyzing the lengthy article and considering their options and next steps.
Meanwhile, the Chinese foreign ministry has released a more elaborate reaction on the report, with a spokesperson claiming that the article was driven by "forces that do not want China to develop and become stronger."
The response is a standard narrative rolled out whenever the government or its policies are criticized.
"They try every means to smear China and the Chinese leaders to create instability in China. Their scheme is doomed to fail," he said, pointing out that the report was published in the lead up to the pivotal 18th National Congress next month, when Wen and his administration will make way for the People's Republic's fifth generation of party leaders.
The state-run People's Daily Online has also published an article attacking the credibility and reputation of the New York Times, detailing a number of scandals that have rocked the US paper in recent years.
Eileen Murphy, a spokesperson for the New York Times, said the paper will not back down from its claims. "We are standing by our story, which we are incredibly proud of and which is an example of the quality investigative journalism the Times is known for," she wrote in an email quoted by the newspaper.
Both the paper's English and Chinese-language websites remain blocked in China.
Wen Jiabao 溫家寶
Wen Yunsong/Winston Wen 溫雲松
Wang Weidong 王衛東
Bai Tao 白濤