China neutralizes power-critical businessmen

Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba, at the People's Assembly Palace, Beijing, December 18, 2018.

After the dissidents, the businessmen: in recent months, a series of Chinese bosses critical of power have borne the brunt of the repression of the authorities, determined to bring the private sector in line. Shortly after having sanctioned Jack Ma in early November by canceling in extremis the IPO of Ant Group, the financial subsidiary of Alibaba, which was preparing to launch the largest IPO in history, several local entrepreneurs suffered the wrath of Beijing.

This is the case of Li Huaiqing, a little too talkative for the authorities’ taste, sentenced to twenty years in prison for subversion. Already in September, the eighteen-year prison sentence of Ren Zhiqiang, a 69-year-old real estate mogul, the son of a communist leader, had sent a clear signal: neither relations, nor status, nor fortune protect anyone who dares to cross the red lines and publicly attack the Chinese leadership or the Communist system.

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On November 11, entrepreneur Sun Dawu, 72, founder of Dawu Group, one of the largest chicken and pork producers in China, was arrested along with 27 other people: his wife, sons and most of the executives. of the company. They are accused of having “Caused disturbances to public order” and “ sabotaged operations ”, according to a statement from the public security bureau in Baoding, the county seat, 150 km southwest of Beijing. In the absence of the main executives, the local authorities take control of certain activities of Dawu Group.

“Ideological and political education of the bosses”

In August, Sun Dawu criticized the Weibo social network for the intervention of the police in a dispute over the use of certain agricultural lands. It was not the first time he brought his grievances to the public. During the African swine flu epidemic in 2019, he accused local authorities of downplaying the case, testifying on Weibo of the devastation of the epidemic on his farm.

These events take place as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) embarked on a sweeping campaign to amplify its control over the private sector

These events take place as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) embarked on a massive campaign to amplify its control over the private sector. In a directive, published in mid-September, the party’s central committee decided to strengthen the presence of the CCP in companies. “Unify the members of the private sector around the party, and improve the promotion of the healthy development of the market economy”, Chinese President Xi Jinping thus ordered officials, quoted by People’s Daily September 24.

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