Chinese business entrepreneur Li Huaiqing was arrested last year on the charge of “involvement in the mafia.” But recently, Li has been charged with “inciting subversion of state power” for having shared an article online about the violent history of China’s Red Army. His multi-million dollar assets, including his company and real estate, were all confiscated by local authorities.
Li Huaiqing, 53, was the owner of Fuhuadian Company, a private enterprise in Chongqing City. He is currently detained at the local Jiangbei District Detention Center.
In mid-August, Li’s wife, Bao Yan, and his attorney both received an indictment from the court, notifying them that Li would be tried on Aug. 22 at the First Intermediate Court of Chongqing.
According to the indictment, Li attempted to “incite subversion of state power” between October 2017 and January 2018 in seven of his posts on WeChat, a Facebook-like social media platform. The post that got him in serious trouble was an article that accused the Chinese Red Army of causing over one million deaths in Sichuan Province.
The attorney Bao hired to represent her husband has made more than 20 attempts to meet with him, but has never received approval from the Jiangbei District Police.
Bao posted an open letter on social media on Aug. 19, which described the ordeals her family went through in the hands of local authorities.
Bao said her husband is an army veteran and a kind-hearted man. Li had donated a total of nearly 300,000 yuan ($42,474) to several charities in China in the past several years. He provided financial aid to children in the Daliang Mountains in Sichuan Province because he had served in this area while in the military and witnessed the plight of the poverty-stricken families there. He also helped victims of occupational lung disease, and given financial aid to some of his former comrades who could barely make ends meet after serving in the military.
The family’s affluent and happy life came to an abrupt end in early 2017, when one of Li’s debtors reported him to the police and accused him of being involved with the mafia. The debtor claimed that Li had coerced him into signing an IOU. In China, some gang groups engage in illegal predatory lending activities.
Although Li provided a number of witnesses and evidence that refuted the accusations, the police came to his residence and company on Jan. 31, 2018. They detained Li, his wife Bao, his elder son from a previous marriage, three employees and five former employees who had left the company at least two years ago.
“I still have nightmares today as a result of the horrific experience,” Bao wrote in the open letter. “I was detained for no reason for 60 hours, and had to go through continuous interrogation and intimidation before the police released me with neither an explanation nor apology.”
The police did not even spare the couple’s younger son who was only 10 years old at the time. They went to his boarding school to intimidate him. According to Bao, the police interrogated the child in an aggressive manner. For a long time afterwards, the child refused to go to school because he was afraid that the police might come and arrest him there.
Bao complained about the mistreatment by police in her open letter: “There are clearly-stated laws that protect underage citizens. When the police interrogated my 10-year-old son, wasn’t it an outright disregard for the rule of law? The charge against Li Huaiqing was initially said to be ‘involvement in the mafia,’ and has now been turned into ‘inciting subversion of state power.’ It’s as if the police is putting on a show.”
In February 2018, the police confiscated Li’s assets, including his company and real estate properties. Li’s sister was also implicated in the case, and the authorities seized her assets. The total value of assets confiscated from the two families exceeded 100 million yuan, according to Bao.
Bao was left destitute and had to borrow money so she could feed herself and her young son.
She also believes her husband is the victim of a frame-up by Chongqing police who have fabricated charges against private company owners for the past decade in order to plunder their assets.
Private Entrepreneurs in China at High Risk
According to the 2017 Entrepreneurs Criminal Risk Analysis Report, at least 2,292 Chinese entrepreneurs were convicted in 2017, among them 1,984 private company executives, accounting for 86 percent.
Once the owner of a private company is sentenced or accused of criminal charges, their assets are often taken away. This is more or less the reason why private entrepreneurs are at an extremely high risk of being unjustly charged with crimes—it’s to seize their assets.
One such victim was Shi Lijun, a private entrepreneur from Mengyin County, Shandong Province who owned three textile companies worth more than 1 billion yuan ($142 million). In 2014, Shi was framed by then-Party secretary Zhu Kaiguo. Shi was illegally detained for two and a half years, and all his assets were confiscated by the local government. Shi pleaded not guilty and was released, but his assets were not returned, the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times reported in May 2017.
During this year’s “Two Sessions”—China’s annual plenary sessions of the two organizations that make national-level political decisions—Sun Qian, the deputy procurator-general of China’s highest prosecutor’s office, said that some local governments “arrest private company owners and suspend their companies” for no good reason or for trivial offenses.
According to a March 2019 report by Chinese financial magazine Caixin, Sun revealed that when he visited one province during an inspection, he found that among the top 100 private companies in the area, executives from several dozen of them had been arrested. Their companies had to stop production, and workers were laid off as a result.
Ever since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) seized power in China in 1949, private entrepreneurs have been targets of government repression in numerous political movements.
Documented History of Red Army’s Crimes in Sichuan
Li Huaiqing WeChat’s post–the article that exposed the atrocious crimes committed by the Red Army during the Chinese Civil War—was based on well-documented reports that can be found in at least three publications—Business Daily, New Sichuan, and Sichuan Monthly.
Business Daily said in a Nov. 27, 1933 report: “In Tongjiang County alone, more than 2,300 households were slaughtered and executed by the Red bandits, regardless of whether the victim is rich or not, and even virtuous scholars were not spared. In the end, only a few dozen households were left intact in the entire county.”
Sichuan Monthly reported in November 1934 that in Tongwei County more than 120,000 residents were executed, based on the number of corpses found in dozens of burial pits. One of these pits was gigantic and became the final resting place of about 10,000 people. Among the victims were pregnant women and babies that were only a few months old.
Moreover, when the Red Army, facing the Kuomintang’s attacks, decided to retreat from Sichuan Province in December 1933, Commander Zhang Guotao ordered the soldiers of the last three retreating regiments to burn down all the civilian houses and fields, so as to “leave no provisions for the enemy.”
The total number of deaths in Sichuan Province caused by the Red Army was as high as 1.11 million, according to the Sichuan Monthly report.
Epoch Times reporter Xiao Lusheng contributed to this report.