The New York Times has reported that the family of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao controls assets worth $2.7 billion. In response, access to The New York Times in China is now blocked and every mention of the story in the media and on microblogs is being censured. The story is a reminder of the problems generated by China’s incredible growth and the fragility of the Beijing government’s legitimacy. These are always sensitive subjects, but their importance is magnified during a government transition and the scandal surrounding former strongman and candidate for the supreme leadership, Mr. Bo Xilai. Indeed, there is a good chance that the revelations are tied to the Bo affair.

As premier, Mr. Wen is responsible for the administration of the Chinese economy. He has cultivated the image of a simple man, who is close to the people and is often first on the scene of a disaster, earning him the sobriquet of “Grandpa Wen.” At a time when income disparities in China approached some of the highest levels in the world, he offered reassurance to ordinary people that their concerns were considered at the highest levels of government.

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