07/25/2020, 13.34
CHINA
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Ren Zhiqiang indicted for calling Xi Jinping a ‘clown’

Nicknamed ‘big cannon Ren’, Ren has been charged with embezzlement and damaging the image of leaders and the state with its criticisms. Party members cannot question the leaders, and state entrepreneurs must align themselves with the regime's decisions.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Communist Party of China (CPC) has expelled dissident billionaire Ren Zhiqiang, who will now expected to go on trial for using public funds for personal benefit, Chinese authorities announced Thursday evening.

Nicknamed "big cannon Ren" for his attacks on the country’s leaders, he went missing on 12 March. He is thought to be currently held in a prison in Taipingzhuang, near the capital. In the previous three years, he lived at his Beijing home under constant surveillance.

The real estate tycoon, a member of an important family of revolutionary leaders, became famous for calling Xi Jinping a "power hungry clown".

In an online article last March, Ren criticised the Chinese president – without ever mentioning his name – for the way he handled the pandemic crisis, the Sino-US trade war and Taiwan relations.

The CPC’s disciplinary body banned him for speaking out against the "four cardinal principles", the theoretical bases on which the Party’s undisputed leadership is based. He is also accused of harming the image of the Party and the state.

For friends and observers, the charges of embezzlement and wrongful gain are an excuse to discredit Ren.

Xu Zhangrun, another well-known Xi critic, recently received the same treatment. A law professor at Tsinghua University, he was arrested on 6 July for "soliciting prostitution". Released a few days later, he was fired by his university for "moral corruption".

According to several sources, the disciplinary action against Ren is based on the notion that Party members cannot criticise Party leaders, and state entrepreneurs must always align themselves with the regime's decisions.

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