Beijing: A lengthy New York Times expose published on Friday claimed the family of Premier Wen Jiabao has amassed assets worth $2.7 billion through a web of investments, most of it accumulated after he rose to high office in 2002. Chinese censors swiftly blocked the Times' Chinese-language site that carried a translated version of the story, although Internet users with the technical knowledge could still access it by penetrating China's firewall.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters at a press briefing that the report "blackens China and has ulterior motives." He refused to elaborate despite several follow-up questions.
While Wen is expected to leave his post in the spring, the report is a blow to his reputation as a politician concerned with bettering the lives of ordinary Chinese.
In another example of the lack of transparency, a report released Thursday by the Washington think-tank the Brookings Institution points out that the brother of Vice Premier Li Keqiang has been a top official in the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration, even while Li oversaw public health policy.
The agency both regulates and runs the China National Tobacco Corporation, the world's biggest cigarette maker, and taxes on cigarettes are a significant source of government revenue.
With Li expected to be promoted to premier in the leadership change, the report suggests that the brother, Li Keming, be reassigned.