A Chinese real estate tycoon was expelled from the Communist Party after calling President Xi Jinping a “clown”, and the party charged him with corruption.
Ren Zhiqiang reportedly disappeared in March following a scathing criticism he wrote over Xi’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic in China. Ren published an essay accusing Xi of covering up the early stages of the outbreak, saying that no one in the party “took responsibility,” the Independent reported.
“Standing there was not an emperor showing off his new clothes but a clown who had stripped off his clothes and insisted on being an emperor,” Ren wrote, not naming Xi specifically.
The party launched an investigation shortly after, citing allegations of corruption and political malpractice, including embezzlement of public funds from the state-owned company Huayuan Group, acceptance of bribes and abuse of power. The Beijing Commission for Discipline Inspection also stated that Ren Zhengfei “publicly published an article against the four basic principles of the Communist Party.”
The party claimed that the responsibility was not to “distort party history” and that it showed infidelity and dishonesty to the party.
According to the Wall Street Journal, friends said they believed that the investigation of Ren Zhengfei was politically motivated and was motivated by his thesis. For a long time, people have believed that Ren Zhengfei is a symbol of Xi Jinping’s dissent. He regularly expresses his opinions on the operation of the government and the party. Some people think that he is used as an example to show that no one is loyal to the party.
The BBC once labeled him “China’s Donald Trump.” The party previously placed him on a probation for comments made online, shutting down his social media accounts.
“This is blatant political persecution,” Wang Ying, a retired entrepreneur and friend of Ren’s, said in a post on WeChat, The New York Times reported. “This is a rare good man, a good citizen who is responsible and ready to take responsibility, an entrepreneur who played his role and followed the law.”
The Times also reported that Xi told a meeting of business leaders on Tuesday that they should seek to “enhance their patriotism.”
“Patriotism is the glorious tradition of our country’s outstanding entrepreneurs in modern times,” he said, according to a transcript published by Xinhua, the official news agency.