10/26/2012, 00.00
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Wen Jiabao's family, net worth of US$ 2.7 billion

After the New York Times reveals the net worth of the Chinese premier's relatives, the Chinese government blocks the site. Like him, incoming President Xi Jinping used his position of power to accumulate huge wealth.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - A few days before the 18th Congress of the Communist Party of China, another scandal has come to haunt Chinese rulers. Wen Jiabao, who has been prime minister for the past ten years and is getting ready to step down, is now suspected of enriching himself and his family using his position as head of government to the tune of US$ 2.7 billion.

From a humble background, a mother teacher and father pig farmer, the members of the Wen family enriched themselves during the prime minister's time in office, this according to an article in The New York Times, which presents the family business empire and the functions and assets of each member of the Wen clan.

The amount of money is mind-boggling, hidden behind layers of partnerships and investment vehicles involving friends, work colleagues and business partners. The family's assets range from natural resources and insurance to real estate and State Owned Enterprises.

In theory, party leaders are not allowed to sit on the board of directors of public companies; however, this is often bypassed by appointing a relative.

Xi Jinping, set to become China's next president, has also come under scrutiny for his family's business affairs. According to Bloomberg, the Xi family is worth about US$ 1 billion.

Although party censorship prevents the disclosure of assets, it is possible to review corporate and regulatory records to uncover the web of holdings protecting owners.

In Xi's case, interests include investments in companies with total assets of US$ 376 million; an 18 per cent indirect stake in a rare-earths company with US$ 1.73 billion in assets; and a US$ 20.2 million holding in a publicly traded technology company.

As soon as the news broke, China's propaganda machine went into overdrive.

The virtual Great Wall of China the government set up against undesirable information quickly blocked The New York Times' US and Chinese-language websites as well as the flood of comments on the matter posted on Sina Weibo (China's twitter).


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