|FROM ||Ruben Safir
|SUBJECT ||Subject: [Hangout - NYLXS] and just as a reminder of who we are dealing with
China Sentences Xi Critic Ren Zhiqiang to 18 Years in Prison
Chun Han Wong
HONG KONG—A Beijing court sentenced an influential businessman known for
his outspoken criticism of China’s leader, Xi Jinping, to 18 years in
prison, meting out harsh punishment in a corruption case that is likely
to chill dissent within the Chinese political elite.
Ren Zhiqiang, 69 years old, was sentenced Tuesday after being convicted
of corruption, receiving bribes, embezzlement and abuse of power, the
Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court said in an online notice. Mr.
Ren, a well-connected member of Beijing’s political and business
circles, was also fined the equivalent of about $619,000.
The verdict came two months after the Communist Party expelled Mr. Ren
over allegations of political disloyalty and corruption, and marked the
culmination of a monthslong investigation against the retired real
estate mogul. Friends say he had disappeared in mid-March soon after
writing an essay excoriating Mr. Xi for his handling of the coronavirus
A former chairman of a state-owned property company, Mr. Ren was accused
of wrongdoing from 2003 to 2017 that included embezzling and
misappropriating more than the equivalent of $16.3 million at current
rates, and receiving bribes worth more than $184,000. He was also
charged with causing about $17.2 million in losses for state enterprises
while reaping personal benefit.
The court said Mr. Ren had confessed to all charges and declined to
appeal. He couldn’t be reached for comment. A friend of Mr. Ren’s said
he was represented by a government-appointed lawyer.
In a departure from some recent high-profile corruption cases involving
influential officials and party members, Mr. Ren’s trial received no
official publicity when it took place earlier this month, and the court
and state media haven’t released any courtroom imagery.
As a party insider who was popular among ordinary Chinese for what many
saw as his straight-talking style, Mr. Ren has been regarded as a potent
symbol of dissent against Mr. Xi’s authority, and authorities are making
an example of him by imposing a harsh sentence, China politics watchers
“They are killing a bull for the cattle to see,” said a retired politics
professor in Beijing. Given Mr. Ren’s pedigree as a son of a former
senior party official, Mr. Xi likely hopes that imprisoning him will
deter other outspoken descendants of the party elite, the professor said.
Friends say the probe against Mr. Ren was politically motivated and
prompted by an essay he wrote earlier this year in which he appeared to
call Mr. Xi a clown and attacked the leader’s domineering style and
intolerance of criticism.
The essay, which began circulating on Chinese social media in early
March, focused on a Communist Party meeting in February where Mr. Xi
addressed some 170,000 officials across the country via teleconference
to issue instructions on managing the pandemic. Mr. Xi wasn’t named, but
many readers inferred he was the target of Mr. Ren’s attacks.
“There stood not an emperor displaying his ‘new clothes,’ but a clown
who stripped off his clothes and still insisted on being an emperor,”
the essay read. “Despite holding up pieces and pieces of loincloth in
trying to hide the reality of your nakedness, you don’t hide in the
slightest your resolute ambition to become an emperor.”
Friends say Mr. Ren went missing soon after the essay appeared. In early
April, party and government inspectors from a central Beijing district
said they were investigating Mr. Ren.
In July, the Communist Party expelled Mr. Ren, citing wide-ranging
allegations spanning political misdeeds such as disloyalty and economic
crimes including corruption. Investigators alleged Mr. Ren had deviated
from party leadership on “major matters of principle,” published essays
that oppose the party’s cardinal tenets, besmirched the party and the
state, distorted party history, and showed disloyalty and dishonesty to
The party’s July statement on Mr. Ren’s expulsion included allegations
that didn’t appear in Tuesday’s court notice, such as that he
collaborated with his children to “wantonly accumulate wealth.”
A former soldier whose father was a vice commerce minister, Mr. Ren has
been called “Cannon Ren” for his outspoken views on topics ranging from
real estate to politics, often shared through social-media posts. He has
been widely seen as an influential member of the party elite, whose
friends included senior officials such as Chinese Vice President Wang
Write to Chun Han Wong at chunhan.wong-at-wsj.com
So many immigrant groups have swept through our town
that Brooklyn, like Atlantis, reaches mythological
proportions in the mind of the world - RI Safir 1998
DRM is THEFT - We are the STAKEHOLDERS - RI Safir 2002
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