“Why did Chinese authorities choose GSK? Such corruption is common practice in Chinese pharmaceutical companies, partly due to low salaries for doctors. The Chinese authorities appear to be holding onto the affair tightly, leading to speculations of political motives.
These speculations have arisen from the company’s links with Betsy Li Heng, a former director of GSK’s corporate affairs. Li’s two brothers, Hu Deping and Hu Dehua, have long been advocating political reform – going so far as to criticise President Xi. This is almost unheard of amongst Chinese officials and intellectuals, and the scandal could be a warning for them”
GlaxoSmithKline’s bribery scandal in China might actually be about shutting up political reformers
“The theory floating around Beijing political circles and in internet postings is that when China’s top leaders were deciding which pharmaceutical company to go after, they settled on GSK because they could achieve two goals simultaneously. Not only have they warned the drug industry to clean up its act; they have also sent a message to the Hu family to pull their necks in. According to this theory, the real targets of the crackdown on GSK are two of Li’s brothers, Hu Deping and Hu Dehua, both of whom have been outspoken advocates of political reform.”
GSK, corruption and the Byzantine world of Chinese politics
“When asked whether GSK believes the ongoing bribery and corruption investigation is related to elite Communist party politics, a spokesperson declined to comment beyond confirming that Li had worked for the company from the mid-1990s until 2007.
Adding to suspicions that an orchestrated smear campaign is targeting the Hu family, a series of anonymous internet postings claiming that Hu Deping owns at least one luxury apartment in central Beijing have also appeared in recent weeks.
Hu has denied that he owns the apartments.
Last week, allegations of “suspected massive corruption” were levelled by a senior state-employed journalist against a major state-owned conglomerate that previously employed another Hu Yaobang son, Liu He.
Liu was vice-chairman of Hong Kong-listed China Resources Group, the company named in the allegations, until his retirement in 2005. His retirement pre-dates the alleged corruption.
There has been a string of whistle-blowers exposing official corruption in recent months but it remains extremely rare in China for journalists at state media organizations to make such public accusations.”
“Major web portals have also linked to a story about a statement that is said to have been authored by Betsy Li Heng, the daughter of former Chinese Communist Party leader Hu Yaobang. The statement, which was posted to a Weibo account, refutes rumours about her private life and clarifies her association with GlaxoSmithKline. (SCMP)”
Former Party leader Hu Yaobang’s daughter denies allegations of wrongdoing
The allegations are the latest in a series of adverse reports circulating online on the offspring of the reformist party elder, whose death triggered the Tiananmen protests in 1989.
In the statement, which first appeared on Monday, Li reportedly denied she had business dealings with GSK after leaving the company six years ago.
Li served as director of GSK’s corporate affairs in its Beijing office from the mid-1990s to 2007. Her departure from the company predates the alleged acts of bribery by the company in China.
Li also denied she had a daughter who was studying in Britain. “Ms Li Heng does not have a daughter,” the statement reads. “Rumours are a tool to hurt people.”
The unsigned statement, which could not be independently verified, is dated July 27 and was first shared on the official Sina Weibo account of KDNet, a popular forum for political debate, on Monday.
Li, who adopted her mother’s surname, also said she and her husband Liu Xiaojiang did not own luxury villas in Beijing downtown and in the Xiangshan mountains west of Beijing, as claimed in online posts. Photos of a purported residence had circulated online earlier in July.
Her brother Hu Deping, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, also dismissed online allegations of owning a luxury property in Beijing, which appeared around the same time.
Hu said that his father’s descendants had nothing to hide, but the publication of the family assets should be made in an orderly manner.
At the same time, Xinhua journalist Wang Wenzhi accused China Resources, a Hong Kong-listed company, of “massive corruption”, in a rare exposure by journalists of the state-run news agency.
Observers noticed that Li’s other brother Liu Hu served as a former deputy general manager and executive board director for the company until his retirement in 2005.
For Wang Jiangsong, a philosophy professor at the China Institute of Industrial Relations in Beijing, these attacks have been orchestrated by opponents of the Hu family.
“It is probably extreme conservatives trying to blacken their names,” he said.
Days ahead of the leadership transition in the Communist Party in autumn, Hu’s eldest son Hu Deping wrote an open letter calling for reform and for policies that conform more to the country’s constitution.
“Constitutional rule is an abhorrence to both [the Communist Party’s] extreme right and left wing,” said Wang. “The Hu family represents healthy forces within the party.”
“The influence and appeal of them openly parading the banner of constitutionalism is no trivial matter,” he said. “Therefore, they had to be politically ruined and discredited among the people.”
Among the four hundred people who have commented on the statement on microblogs, many have expressed similar suspicions about a smearing campaign and expressed support for the family. Some have questioned the veracity of the statement.
Hu Deping could not be reached for immediate comment.