Chinese Law Prof Blog

Editor: Donald C. Clarke
George Washington University Law School

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What would happen if Wen family members sued the New York Times in the US?

More notes on the continuing saga of the Wen family fortune, which I've blogged about here and here. Lawyers retained by undisclosed members of the Wen family issued a statement denying parts of the story and containing a veiled threat of a lawsuit at the end. (The Want China Times reports that the lawyers have since stated they are acting on behalf of Wen's son, Wen Yunsong (Winston Wen).)

What would happen if Wen or his family members tried to sue in the US? Here's an analysis by my colleague, Jonathan Turley, an expert in these matters. Best line: "The Chinese government regularly responds to such corruption stories with executions but they are viewed as little more than a lethal form of public relations." One caveat: his analysis states that the Wen family has already retained US lawyers, which to the best of my knowledge is not accurate, but I think we can forgive him this slight misreading of the NYT story because he wrote his post in the middle of trying to drive from New Orleans to Washington in a hurricane. It doesn't affect the analysis.

What would the legal analysis be if the Wen family sued in China? Stay tuned - I hope to have something on that shortly. Of course, the political analysis is pretty easy - it's unimaginable that they would lose if they went so far as to bring suit. This does not mean it would be wise for them to do so, however - there would be costs.

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