Wen Jiabao

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Wen Jiabao : biography

19 September 1942 –

Wen has progressively amped up his liberal rhetoric as his Premiership continued, remarking in August 2010 that "Without political reform, China may lose what it has already achieved through economic restructuring". Wen’s comments were largely censored in state media, but he gained support from a group of some 23 party elders in October, who denounced the authorities’ censorship of Wen’s remarks in an open letter to the National People’s Congress. In an interview with Fareed Zakaria on CNN’s Global Public Square television program aired in October 2010, Wen made the following statement: "I have summed up my political ideals into the following four sentences. To let everyone lead a happy life with dignity. To let everyone feel safe and secure. To let the society be one with equity and justice. And to let everyone have confidence in the future. In spite of the various discussions and views in the society, and in spite of some resistance, I will act in accordance with these ideals unswervingly, and advance within the realm of my capabilities political restructuring. I will like to tell you the following two sentences to reinforce my view on this point. I will not fall in spite of the strong wind and harsh rain, and I will not yield until the last day of my life." At the 2012 National People’s Congress, Wen mentioned the word "reform" 70 times. He remarked that China must "press ahead with both economic structural reforms and political structural reforms, in particular reforms on the leadership system of the Party and the country." There is also indication from party insiders that Wen has been pushing the case for the political rehabilitation of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

Public image and political influence

Wen has been described as a populist by most observers. His quick responses and visits to the scenes of various disasters, including the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, has earned him a considerable reputation as an approachable leader in touch with the experiences of the masses. Wen engages regularly with locals on his trips to various provinces domestically as well as foreign visits; he played baseball and badminton with Japanese and South Korean citizens during visits to those countries. "Whether taking a stroll or swimming, it puts me at ease both mentally and physically and helps me handle my heavy workload," Wen had remarked.

Wen’s public image has been criticized by Chinese dissident Yu Jie, who charged that Wen’s rhetoric is insincere and empty. Dissidents such as Yu allege that Wen’s parade of appearances on Chinese media is a carefully managed public relations campaign designed to distract people from real issues. They say that through use of Wen’s charisma, the government hopes to showcase cosmetic solutions to much larger, systemic issues in order to placate public opinion. They also point out that Wen’s words are rarely translated into deeds. On the other hand, Li Datong, a pro-democracy advocate, in an interview with the Associated Press, stated that "among the top Chinese leaders, who else speaks about democracy? Who else speaks about universal values and freedom?… Wen is the only one." Li believes that Wen is genuinely calling for democratic reform but he is powerless to make major decisions on the matter due to internal opposition. Wen’s family members have also been subject to gossip and scrutiny outside of mainland China. Taiwanese media zoomed in on his wife’s alleged personal fortunes from her jewelry business,China Times, 2 November 2007 while the Financial Times reported on a private equity firm called New Horizon Capital co-founded by Wen’s son Wen Yunsong.http://www.chinainperspective.org/ArtShow.aspx?AID=5834

As the head of Chinese Central People’s government, Wen Jiabao is considered to be one of the most powerful statesmen in the world. In 2006, he was named to the Time 100 list. In 2009, Wen was named one of ten people and the only non-American in a list compiled by ABC of people who shaped the U.S. economy the most since 2000. Wen also topped a list of "10 leaders to watch" in 2010 released 19 January by Eurasia Group, a global political risk research and consulting firm. Behind that U.S. President Barack Obama came second. 17 March 2009 In August 2010, Wen was named "The Man of the People" by Newsweek. Newsweek In October 2010, Wen Jiabao was a person selected on the TIME Magazine’s cover that the title was "Wen’s World". In 2011, Wen was ranked 14th in Forbes Magazine’s List of The World’s Most Powerful People.