Beijing: Ren Zhiqiang, a former real estate tycoon and an outspoken critic of China’s President Xi Jinping has been sentenced to 18 years in jail on charges of corruption. A court here said that Ren Zhiqiang was ‘guilty of corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds’. This information was given by the state-run outlet ‘Global Times’. The former real estate king was also found He will also have to pay a fine of 4.2m yuan (£482,950; $620,000).
Ren is the former chairman of ‘Huayuan’, a state-owned real estate group. The Intermediate Court here said on its website that the 69-year-old ‘voluntarily and truthfully confessed all his crimes’. It also said that Ren will not appeal to have decision overturned. The court also said that Ren had accepted charges he had accepted bribes worth 1.25mn and embezzled almost 50m yuan
Ren went missing in March this year shortly after writing an essay said to be critical of Xi. In the write-up he called Xi a ‘clown’ for the way the Chinese president handled the coronavirus crisis.
Ren however, was not just a real estate tycoon. He was the son of a ministry official. Ren was also known to have close ties with senior party leaders and was in a position from which his criticisms of the party would be particularly potent. What he wrote however, was pretty damning for the Communist Party in China.
A report in the China Digital Times published a part of what Ren wrote. It came after a TV speech by XI regarding China’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I too am curiously and conscientiously studying [the] speech… what I saw… [was] not an emperor standing there exhibiting his ‘new clothes’, but a clown who stripped naked and insisted on continuing being emperor.”
A few days after Ren’s article appeared it was announced that Ren had been put under investigation for ‘suspected serious disciplinary violations’. He was also expelled from the Communist Party.
Incidentally, this is not the first time that Ren had a confrontation with the party. In 2016, he was put on probation for a year as punishment for his public criticism of government policy. His social media accounts, which had tens of millions of followers, were shut down.