Critic of Chinese leader sentenced to 18 years in transplant case

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The former chairman of a Chinese state-owned real estate company who has publicly criticized President Xi Jinping’s handling of the coronavirus crisis was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Tuesday for corruption, a court said.Ren Zhiqiang, who became known for speaking out about censorship and other sensitive topics, disappeared from public view in March after posting an online essay accusing Xi of mismanaging the epidemic that began in December. in the central city of Wuhan.

Xi, China’s top leader since 2012, has cracked down on criticism, tightened censorship and cracked down on unofficial organizations. Dozens of journalists, labor and human rights activists and others have been jailed.

Ren, 69, has been convicted of bribery, bribery, embezzlement of public funds and abuse of power, the Beijing No.2 Intermediate People’s Court reported on his social media account. He quoted Ren as saying he would not appeal.

Ren, the former chairman and deputy party secretary of the Huayuan Group, was kicked out of the ruling Chinese Communist Party in July.

In a comment that circulated on social media, Ren criticized a Feb.23 video conference with 170,000 officials held at the start of the pandemic in which Xi announced orders to respond to the disease. Ren did not mention Xi by name but said, “There was not an emperor showing his new clothes but a clown who had stripped down and insisted on being an emperor.

Ren criticized propaganda that described Xi – China’s most powerful leader in decades – and other officials as saving the country from the coronavirus without mentioning where the crisis started and possible mistakes in its handling, including the suppression of information at the start of the epidemic.

“People didn’t see any criticism at the conference. He didn’t investigate and reveal the truth, ”Ren wrote, according to a copy posted by China Digital Times, a website in California. “No one looked at or took responsibility. But they try to cover up the truth with all kinds of great achievements.

Ren had an early military career, and his parents were both former senior Communist Party officials. Some called him a prince, a term for the offspring of the founders of Communist China, a group that includes Xi.

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