(TibetanReview.net, Jul29’21) – China has jailed prominent billionaire Sun Dawu for 18 years after convicting him for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” a charge often used against activists, reported the bbc.com Jul 29.
Sun, 67, runs one of the country’s largest private agricultural businesses in the northern province of Hebei. He has in the past spoken out about human rights and politically sensitive topics.
Last year, he suggested that President Xi Jinping step down from office, accusing him of being the cause of the Covid-19 virus’ spread and China’s social disaster, for which he was arrested.
Other charges for which he was tried included illegally occupying farmland, assembling a crowd to attack state agencies and obstructing government workers from performing their duties. He was also fined 3.11 million yuan ($478,697).
Sun’s company is among China’s biggest, with businesses ranging from meat processing and pet food to schools and hospitals.
Also arrested with him last year were 20 relatives and business associates over a land dispute with a government-run farm.
Sun described himself as an “outstanding Communist party member” and denied many of the accusations against him in a pre-trial hearing, the report said.
The mistakes he reportedly admitted included posting messages online.
Sun is known to be close to some prominent Chinese political dissidents and has in the past criticised the government’s rural policies.
He was one of the few people to openly accuse the government of covering up an African swine flu outbreak, which affected his farms in 2019, and later devastated much of the country’s industry.
In 2015, Sun voiced his support for those caught up in the “709 crackdown”, when over 300 human rights lawyers and activists were arrested.