BEIJING: Chinese tycoon Ren Zhiqiang, who called President Xi Jinping a ‘clown’, has been jailed for 18 years over corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds.
Ren had criticised China’s response to the coronavirus pandemic under President Xi in an essay. He then mysteriously disappeared in March.
Ren, 69, was the former chairman of state-owned Huayuan and considered to be in China’s Communist Party’s inner circle. He was charged with embezzling USD 7.4 million in public funds and accepting bribes. He was fined USD 620,000.
According to Chinese government statement Ren ‘voluntarily and truthfully confessed all his crimes”. The verdict also accused him of abusing power at Huayuan.
“This epidemic has revealed the fact that the Party and government officials only care about protecting their own interests, and the monarch only cares about protecting their interests and core position,” Ren had said, adding,”standing there was not an emperor showing off his new clothes, but a clown stripped of clothes who insisted on being an emperor.”
Ren had earlier called for greater freedom of the press, however, authorities closed his Weibo account.