Chinese real estate mogul Ren Zhiqiang is seen in his office in Beijing in this file photo.(AP Photo)
Chinese real estate mogul Ren Zhiqiang is seen in his office in Beijing in this file photo.(AP Photo)

Critic of President Xi Jinping expelled from Communist Party

Ren Zhiqiang, former chairperson of a real estate development company, was detained in March for criticising President Xi’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Hindustan Times, Beijing | By Sutirtho Patranobis
UPDATED ON JUL 24, 2020 01:33 PM IST

The ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) has expelled a real estate tycoon and an outspoken critic of President Xi Jinping for violating party discipline in what is being seen as a message to the business elite to toe the party line.

A court statement released late on Thursday announced the expulsion of Ren Zhiqiang from the party for “seriously” violating the “party’s political, organisational, integrity, work and life disciplines”.

Ren, 69, was also accused of “corruption, bribe-taking and misappropriation of public funds” including buying “golf membership cards”.

The expulsion was announced by the District Supervisory Committee, Xicheng District Commission for Discipline Inspection, Beijing.

Ren, former chairperson of Huayuan Properties, a real estate development company, was detained in March for criticising President Xi’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

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.”

Ren was detained in March after his critique of Xi’s response to the coronavirus outbreak was published.

In the essay, he called Xi a “clown” and raised several questions about the sequence of events leading to and in the aftermath of the outbreak.

“The reality shown by this epidemic is that the party defends its own interests, the government officials defend their own interests, and the monarch only defends the status and interests of the core. Precisely this type of system is capable of a situation where only the ruler’s order is obeyed with no regard for the people,” Ren wrote in the essay attributed to him and translated in English by China Digital Times.

The expulsion order was passed a day after Xi chaired a symposium with entrepreneurs where he, according to official media, said: “A cordial and upright relationship between government and business should be fostered”.

Ren’s expulsion comes within weeks of Xu Zhangrun, 58, a law professor at Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University who had criticised Xi’s style of functioning and questioned the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic was taken away by the police.

Xu published an essay in February blaming the culture of censorship under Xi for the spread of the coronavirus in China, which first appeared in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

In the essay, which appeared on overseas websites, Xu wrote China’s “leader system is itself destroying the structure of governance”, adding that the chaos in the first virus epicentre of Hubei province reflected systemic problems in the Chinese state.

Xu was released about a week later.

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