Outspoken Chinese tycoon goes missing shortly after firing verbal shots at Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party for their handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
Gone For Close To A Week
Retired real estate executive Ren Zhiqiang has gone missing after slamming the government’s way of containing COVID-19 and calling President Xi Jinping a “clown.” Ren specifically targeted a Feb. 23 speech that Xi made, saying that he “saw not an emperor standing there exhibiting his ‘new clothes’, but a clown stripped naked who insisted he continue being emperor,” as well as a “crisis of governance” within China’s ruling Communist Party, adding that the lack of free speech and a free press has suppressed valuable information about the virus.
“Ren Zhiqiang is a public figure and his disappearance is widely known,” the real estate mogul’s close confidant, Wang Ying, told Reuters, adding that no one has been able to contact Ren since March 12.
Ren was never shy about speaking his mind when it comes to the Communist Party and even President Xi Jinping, often disagreeing and pointing out faults or criticizing the policies and manner of handling affairs. Ren was previously put on a one-year probation in 2016 due to a criticism he made regarding policies – the Communist Party said that the man had “lost his party spirit.”
Gordon Chang, a foreign affairs expert, believes that Ren’s disappearance after slamming the party for its efforts in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, could be a sign of in-fighting at the highest levels of China’s ruling party, adding that Ren “probably believes he can get away with it.”
Despite the state-run media’s portrayal of Xi as a hero, many are starting to speak out against him and his regime, likely giving a rise to tensions within the country, and some speculate that Ren’s disappearance could be an effort to show Xi’s and the Communist Party’s power.