18 years in prison for a Chinese billionaire who criticized President Xi Jinping

18 years in prison for a Chinese billionaire who criticized President Xi Jinping.

A Chinese billionaire who criticized the way President Xi Jinping dealt with the coronavirus pandemic has been sentenced to 18 years in prison on corruption charges.

Chinese billionaire Ren Zhejiang, a retired property tycoon with close ties to senior Chinese officials, disappeared in March after writing an essay criticizing Xi Jinping's handling of the pandemic that month. He was subsequently charged with corruption, CNN Business reported.

A court in Beijing today found Rehn guilty of all charges, including embezzling $ 16.3 million in public funds, accepting bribes and abuse of power, which resulted in losses of $ 17.2 million to the state-owned company he once headed.

He was sentenced to 18 years in prison and fined $ 620,000. The court said Rehn "voluntarily confessed to all his crimes."

China's judiciary boasts 99 percent convictions, according to legal observers, and allegations of corruption are often used against Communist insiders who have ruined relations with those in power.

Ren's harsh conviction seems to be aimed at sending a message to other members of China's elite that public criticism of President Xi Jinping will not be tolerated.

This is not the first time Wren has had problems with the authorities for expressing his views out loud.

In 2016, he was again disciplined after questioning on social media Xi Jinping's claims that the state-owned Chinese media should be absolutely loyal to the party. His membership in the party was put under one year of probation and his popular profile on the Weibo platform was closed.

This time, however, there seems to be no second chance for Wren. If he carries out his entire sentence, he will be nearly 90 years old when he is released from prison.

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