Chinese tycoon who called Xi Jinping a 'clown' sentenced to 18 years in jail
Beijing, Sep 22: A court here has sentenced a business tycoon critical of Xi Jinping to 18 years in jail on charges of corruption.
Ren Zhiqiang, the former chairman of Huayuan, a state owned real estate group was also fined 4.2 million yuan, Beijing's No 2 Intermediate Court said on its website. The 69 year old voluntarily and truthfully confessed all his crimes and would not appeal the court's decision.
Ren, who is an influential critic of the Chinese Community Party had suggested that President Xi Jinping was a clown over his handling of the coronavirus outbreak. He was then put under investigation in April for serious violations of discipline and the law.
Ren had gone missing in March after writing a critical essay about the outbreak. In his essay he took aim at the speech made by Xi on February 23 and said that revealed a crisis of governance in the party. He however did not take Xi by name, but he wrote that what he saw was not an emperor exhibiting new clothes, but a clown stripped naked who insisted on continuing being an emperor.
In 2016, Ren was put under probation for a year as punishment for his public criticism of the government. His social media accounts were also shut down. Rights campaigners have often criticised Xi and the Communist Party of China of using corruption charges as a way to silence dissent.