Outspoken critic of President Xi gets 18 years jail

Outspoken critic of President Xi gets 18 years jail
Ren Zhiqiang went missing in March this year after an essay about China's handling of the virus. Source: EPA
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Daily US Times: An outspoken critic of China’s President Xi Jinping and former real estate tycoon and a has been sentenced to 18 years in jail on charges of corruption.

State media outlet the Global Times said a court in Beijing found Ren Zhiqiang “guilty of corruption, bribery, and embezzlement of public funds”.

He will also have to pay a fine of 4.2m yuan ($620,000).

In March this year, shortly after writing an essay said to be critical of President Xi, Ren went missing, although it did not directly name Chinese president, it was widely believed to be about him.

The Beijing No 2 Intermediate People’s Court said the former real estate tycoon had accepted bribes worth 1.25m and embezzled almost 50m yuan.

Authorities said the critic had “voluntarily” confessed to all charges and will not appeal against the decision.

Mr Ren Zhiqiang, the former chairman of the Hua Yuan Property Company, was not merely a business tycoon. The son of a ministry official, he was in a position from which his criticisms of the party would be particularly potent and was also known to have close ties with senior party leaders and

Rights groups have consistently accused Beijing of using corruption charges as a way to clamp down on dissent.

Ren’s sharply critical essay had been about China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, and came after a televised speech by President Xi.

He did not directly refer to Mr Xi Jinping in his essay, but according to a report in the China Digital Times, said: “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.”

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