“China’s best actor” Wen Jiabao gave a surprising performance this week. From Josh Chin at China Real Time Report:
In a recent speech to members of the Chinese community in Thailand, footage of which was posted to the website thaicn.com on Wednesday, Mr. Wen gave what sounded like farewell speech, despite having another four months at the helm of the world’s second-largest economy.
What was remarkable about the speech was not so much its content as the way it ended.
“In the pursuit of truth, I would die nine times without regret. If I’m going to die, I want to die with honesty and integrity,” he said as he was wrapping up, a paraphrase of his favorite poet, Qu Yuan. To that he added: “I hope everyone will forget me – that includes Chinese people and overseas Chinese. Forget me.”
Wen’s remarks have been read as an “assertion of integrity” following a New York Times investigation into the multi-billion dollar fortune amassed by his family during his time in power. Wen himself is said to have ordered an official inquiry into the exposé’s claims. From Shi Jiangtao at South China Morning Post:
The Beijing-based historian Zhang Lifan said Wen’s remarks could be seen as his parting message before going into full retirement next year. “As a premier who famously cares about his reputation and his own place in history, I think Wen is trying to say loud and clear that he is innocent and all those allegations against him or his family are biased and misleading,” Zhang said
Zhang said Wen was confident that he had been wrongly accused and wanted to voice his frustration about becoming the main target of criticism from Communist Party conservatives and leftists opposed to his high-profile appeals for bolder political and economic reform.
See more on Wen via CDT.