Ren Zhiqiang: China jails Xi critic for 18 years for corruption

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An influential Chinese property tycoon who once referred to President Xi Jinping as a "clown" over his handling of the coronavirus outbreak, has been jailed for 18 years on charges of corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang, once among the ruling Communist Party's inner circle and the former chairman of Huayuan, a state-owned real estate group, was also fined 4.2 million yuan ($619,003), according to a statement from the Beijing No 2 Intermediate Court on Tuesday. The court found Ren guilty of embezzling and misappropriating a total of 111 million yuan ($16.3m) and taking and receiving 1.25 million yuan ($184,000) in bribes, according to a notice on the judgement. It also said Ren had abused his position, resulting in state-owned companies suffering a loss of 117 million yuan ($17.2m) while he made a profit of 19.41 million yuan ($2.9m). The 69-year-old "voluntarily confessed to all charges", the notice said, and would not appeal the court's decision. Nicknamed the "Big Cannon" for his outspokenness, Ren disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after he penned an essay referring to Xi as a clown over a February 23 speech the Chinese leader made about government efforts to battle the coronavirus.
 
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