Alleging campaign to 'destabilise' China, government says critics 'doomed to failure'

The Chinese government on Monday continued its offensive against the New York Times for a report that detailed the “hidden riches” of the family of Premier Wen Jiabao, alleging that a smear

campaign was being waged to “create instability” in China.

“There are always some voices in the world who do not want to see China develop and become strong, they try every means to smear China and the Chinese leaders and create instability in China,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei told reporters at a regular press briefing.

“Their scheme,” Mr. Hong said, “is doomed to failure”.

His comments came a day after lawyers representing the Wen family denied the report and indicated they might take legal action against the newspaper.

The New York Times article, which was based on a year-long investigation prepared using regulatory and company filings, said relatives of the Premier had built a fortune of more than US$ 2.7 billion, which they had hidden through layers of partnerships and investment vehicles. While the article did not directly accuse the

Premier of corruption, it suggested that his relatives had amassed “hidden riches” in the years after Mr. Wen became Vice Premier more than a decade ago.

Mr. Hong on Monday confirmed that Mr. Wen’s family had “employed a lawyer to release the statement.” “We will continue to clarify the report,” he said. “What I want to point out is that the Communist

Party of China has led the Chinese people to achieve great achievements in reform and opening up, Socialism, and the modernisation drive, enhancing the international standing of China in the world. The Communist Party, government and people will eliminate any disruptions and firmly follow the path of Socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

The report comes at a particularly sensitive time for Mr. Wen, days ahead of the November 8 18th National Congress which will formalise a once-in-ten year leadership transition. On Thursday, Mr. Wen and the

370 members of the current 17th Central Committee will hold their last meeting, during which they will deliberate on the draft work report that next month’s congress will approve.

A Politburo meeting last week said the congress will “make strategic plans for China’s reform and development” for the next decade, and focus on “outstanding problems that are emerging during the country's development at its current stage”. Mr. Wen, along with President Hu Jintao and five other members of the Politburo Standing Committee, will step down from the party's top body following the congress.

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