Endgame for Ren Zhiqiang? This member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and real estate developer had become one of the most vocal critics of the government and of the president and secretary general of the CCP, Xi Jinping. Arrested last March after sharply criticizing the handling of the Covid-19 epidemic by Chinese authorities, Mr. Ren was expelled from the CCP for “Serious violation of discipline and the law” and “Collusion with his children to accumulate wealth without measure” and its assets were seized, authorities said late Thursday (July 23). Its exclusion paves the way for a trial.
The Covid-19 crisis, which emerged in Wuhan in December 2019, has been a test for the government, which has responded by silencing information and throwing dissenters into dungeon. Mr. Ren went missing on March 12, along with his son and his assistant, after posting an article online implicitly comparing Xi Jinping to a “Power-hungry clown” has a “Naked emperor”. Mr. Ren is also accused of having “Dirty the image of the Party and the country, distorted the history of the Party and the army” and to have “Lack of loyalty and honesty to the Party”.
Despite his attacks, Mr. Ren had previously enjoyed some tolerance due to his status. Like the Chinese president, he is a “red prince”: his father, Ren Quansheng, was vice minister of commerce. He joined the CCP at 23 and chaired the public real estate group Hua Yuan Property before retiring in 2014. “This is an obvious political persecution”, Wang Ying, retired entrepreneur and friend of Mr. Ren’s friend, commented on social media WeChat, reports the New York Times. “He is a good man as you rarely meet, a good citizen, ready to take responsibility, an entrepreneur who played his role and respected the law. I’m proud to have a friend like you “, continues this close.
First warning in 2015
Mr. Ren is also accused of resisting the CCP’s investigation into him, suggesting that he refused to plead guilty. In recent years, Chinese authorities have staged the forced confessions of a series of activists or simple bloggers, broadcast by local police or on national television (CCTV), for the most important cases. Most submit to get a more lenient sentence. But Ren Zhiqiang got the nickname “cannon” for his vitriolic outings against CCP policies. “Sooner or later, the Party will have to pay its debt to the people”, he writes for example in the letter which earned him his arrest.
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