Police arrest billionaire and friend of dissidents, Wang Gongquan
by Wang Zhicheng
He is accused of gathering people "to disturb public order" : the same accusation with which activist Xu Zhiyong was imprisoned. Wang is one of the proponents of a collection of online signatures for the release of Xu . The billionaire believes that faced with the Party corruption, the gap between rich and poor, abysmal pollution; an alliance between entrepreneurs and citizens is needed to push the government to increasing openness thus avoiding a rise in violence.

Beijing ( AsiaNews) - The billionaire Wang Gongquan (see photo ) was arrested at noon today in Beijing. He is known for his liberal use of social networks and for his strong friendship with some dissidents such as Xu Zhiyong .

The news of his arrest was immediately reported by Teng Biao, human rights activist and professor at Beijing University , stating that at least 20 police went to Wang's home and took him away .

The writer Xiao Shu , another friend of the accused , said that Wang was not handcuffed .

According to witnesses, the police are questioning Wang because he is "suspected of having gathered a crowd to disturb public order".

This accusation is the same as the one that led to the detention of Xu Zhiyong . Xu is the founder of the New Citizen Movement and has been in police custody since mid-July . He is "guilty" of having asked all Communist Party leaders to declare their total assets . But for Beijing this is an attempt to "subvert the order of the State ."

Wang Gongquan is among the proponents of a petition for the release of Xu . His criticism of the Party is both political and economic. In the past he has criticized the oligarchic structure of the Chinese government, its granting of large loans and support to state companies, whose managers are among the top brass of the Party, while at the same time penalizing private firms, which account for over 70% of GDP.

Beijing is becoming increasingly concerned by the growing link between the (private) business community and dissidence. In a recent interview, Wang Gongquan explained his reasons. He said that faced with the growing corruption, social inequality, and pollution, entrepreneurs and citizens must join forces to push for change. For his part, if an individual is treated unfairly by the all-powerful State, he will think he has no other option than violence. " If the government does not support an open society - he said - it can cause even more damage and violence. And this is not in the government's interests".