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Home / World News / Chinese court sends Xi critic and former tycoon to 18 years in jail

Chinese court sends Xi critic and former tycoon to 18 years in jail

Ren Zhiqiang, the former chairperson of Huayuan Properties, a real estate development company, was detained in March after writing an essay criticising China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

world Updated: Sep 22, 2020, 20:22 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
Ren Zhiqiang, the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group, speaking at the China Public Welfare Forum in Beijing in 2013.
Ren Zhiqiang, the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group, speaking at the China Public Welfare Forum in Beijing in 2013. (AFP file)

A court in China on Tuesday sentenced a former real estate tycoon and vocal critic of President Xi Jinping to 18 years in prison for corruption.

“Former property mogul Ren Zhiqiang was sentenced to 18 years and fined 4.2 million yuan ($620,000) for corruption, bribery, embezzlement of public funds, and abuse of power as state-owned company personnel,” state media quoted a Beijing court as ruling on Tuesday.

Ren, 69, reportedly confessed “voluntarily” to all charges and will not appeal against the decision.

The former chairperson of Huayuan Properties, a real estate development company, was detained in March after writing an essay criticising China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Ren did not name Xi in the essay but it was widely believed the critique was about the powerful Chinese leader; Ren even used the word “clown” in his essay.

In July, Ren was expelled from the Communist Party of China for “seriously” violating the “party’s political, organisational, integrity, work and life disciplines”.

Ren had a massive following on China’s social media and was known as “cannon” for his outspoken and controversial views.

In early 2016, Ren was banned from Chinese social media after he criticised a much-publicised Xi speech on how the media should serve the CPC.

According to Chinese state media, Ren also suggested controversial ideas like the “…poor young migrant workers who cannot afford apartments in cities should return to the countryside.”

According to report and translation of his March essay, Ren is said to have written: He did not directly refer to Mr Xi in his essay, but according to a report in the China Digital Times, said: “I too am curiously and conscientiously studying [Xi’s teleconferenced February 23] speech, but what I saw in it was the complete opposite of the ‘importance’ reported by all types of media and online.”

“I saw not an emperor standing there exhibiting his “new clothes,” but a clown who stripped naked and insisted on continuing being emperor.”

“I was unable to cheer for the February 23 speech, because in it I saw a bigger crisis, one that ferments even faster in [the context of] that speech and the cheers it won. When shameless and ignorant people attempt to resign themselves to the stupidity of the great leader, society becomes a mob that is hard to develop and sustain.”

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