Sun Dau sharply criticizes the government and at the same time supports the poor, marginalized sections of the rural population
Chinese billionaire Sun Dau, an outspoken critic of the government, was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Wednesday for “creating ferment and causing trouble”, according to an official statement issued by the court and quoted by CNN.
Sun was arrested in March this year. His company, Hebei Dawu, a group for agriculture and animal husbandry, owns agricultural assets in China and employs about 9,000 people in poultry processing, pet food production and other industries.
He is known for fiercely criticizing China’s ruling Communist Party.
Dream was found guilty in “gathering crowds of people to storm state institutions, obstructing public service, causing ferment, quarrels and trouble, disruption of production and operations, forced trade, illegal extraction, illegal occupation of agricultural land, illegal use of public deposits” ,, announced a local people’s court in Beijing.
In addition to his 18-year sentence, Dow was fined 3.11 million yuan ($ 480,000).
CNN notes that the Sun is one of the few in China who has publicly accused the government of trying to cover up the scale of African swine flu in 2019, which ultimately killed more than 100 million pigs in the country. In an interview with CNN in May 2019, Sun said that local authorities re-checked his pigs for the disease only when he began posting photos of the dead animals online.
Local media reported that Sun was involved in a land dispute with a local state farm, Reuters reported. Dow claims that dozens of company employees were injured in a battle with police in 2020 after attempts to stop employees of the state farm from demolishing one of its buildings.
In a statement on July 14, the Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) said Sun was facing trial “as an outright attempt to punish him for his support for human rights.”
“Sun Dau has made a tremendous contribution to improving the lives of Chinese citizens living in rural China. His support for human rights defenders has continued his concern for the well-being of people in poor areas within the Chinese economy,” said Ramona Li. senior researcher at CHRD in a statement in March. The CHRD added that Sun was arrested along with his wife and older children.
Sun’s sentence comes amid growing repression against private companies in China. In a set of guidelines set out in September 2020, the Communist Party said the private sector needed “politically sensible people” who would “listen hard to the party,” CNN reported.