Former Chinese Property Executive Who Criticized Xi Over Virus Ousted From CCP

July 23, 2020 Updated: July 24, 2020

BEIJING—An influential former property executive and critic of Chinese leader Xi Jinping has been ousted from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), a notice from the Beijing district government showed on July 23.

Ren Zhiqiang, the former chairman of state-controlled property developer Huayuan Real Estate Group, had called Xi a “clown” over a speech he made in February about government efforts to battle the coronavirus.

Ren wrote in an online article published in March that Xi was “a clown who insists on being an emperor, even after he has been stripped of his clothes.”

Ren soon went missing, three of his friends told Reuters at the time. Beijing’s municipal anti-corruption watchdog later said he was under investigation for a “serious disciplinary violation.”

Since taking power in 2012, Xi launched a sweeping anti-corruption campaign, which has purged many of his political rivals.

In a notice on July 23, the watchdog said Ren had been ousted from the Chinese Communist Party because he was in “severe violation of discipline and law.”

It accused Ren of “losing faith,” “not being aligned with the Party on important matters of principle,” “vilifying the image of Party and country,” and being disloyal and dishonest to the Party.

According to the notice, Ren also used official funds on golf expenses, used office and residential spaces provided for free by businessmen, and unlawfully earned huge profits.

Ren’s “unlawful gains” have been confiscated, and he will be charged in court, the notice said.

The notice made no mention of the article in which Ren also said a lack of free press and speech had prevented the novel coronavirus outbreak from being tackled sooner, causing the situation to worsen.

Ren’s father, Ren Quansheng, was a deputy minister of commerce before he retired in 1983. As a descendant of a former senior official, Ren is considered a Party princeling.

Ren, who gained the nickname “Cannon Ren” for previous critiques posted on social media, was put on probation from the Party for a year in 2016, his punishment for publicly criticizing government policy.