Influential real estate developer Ren Zhiqiang was sentenced to 18 years in prison for graft on Sept. 22 in Beijing No. 2 Intermediate Court. Ren belongs to the second generation of top Chinese Communist Party (CCP) families, referred to as the “red second generation” of the CCP.
Ren—who was accused of embezzlement, bribery, misappropriation of public funds, and abuse of power while chairman of state-owned real estate group Huayuan—wrote an article criticizing Chinese leader Xi Jinping for a speech he gave on Feb. 23 about the regime’s efforts in containing the coronavirus outbreak.
That has led some critics to say his harsh sentence is undoubtedly a political, rather than a legal, punishment.
Recently, I reread Ren’s article. Except for a few sharp sentences, the basic point is his concern for the country and the people.
It would have been a magnanimous gesture if Xi could have tolerated Ren’s sincere but unpleasant words. However, not only did Xi refuse to listen, but also punished Ren harshly, for which Xi will have to bear serious consequences.
The Wicked Hold Power and Block Free Speech
Truth rejuvenates a country, lies mislead a country—a statement that may not be profound, but shows basic common sense. However, the CCP’s series of political campaigns since it came to power have targeted those who tell the truth. Being honest has become the most difficult thing in “CCP country.” Countless people have been persecuted by the CCP for telling the truth.
In the first five years of his anti-corruption campaign of taking down “tigers” or top-level officials, Xi was rewarded for his belief in godhood above mankind. Before the 19th CCP National Congress, political theorist Wang Huning meticulously packaged “Xi thought” and included it in the reporting of the 19th National Congress and the newly revised Party Constitution, thus winning Xi’s trust. Subsequently, Wang became a member of the Standing Committee of the CCP Political Bureau, the highest ideological body of the CCP.
Under Wang’s control, the CCP media’s praise of Xi has convinced Xi to believe that he’s the new emperor—a son of heaven.
Judging Wang’s performance during the three years since taking charge of the CCP’s ideology, it can be said that he’s the biggest traitor in Zhongnanhai today. In a crafty manner, Wang tied Xi to the fallacies and heresies preached by Marx’s Communist Manifesto. Under Xi, Sino–U.S. relations have deteriorated due to the trade war and the pandemic, the CCP is taking away Hong Kong’s freedoms, the CCP wants to take over Taiwan, and the regime goes against universal values.
These actions are all the result of practicing the heresy that Marx’s communists used 171 years ago to overthrow the capitalist system.
Before the 19th National Congress in October 2017, Xi held a good hand. But this year, Xi has turned a good hand into a bad hand. One of the main reasons was his close relationship with former leader Jiang Zemin, as well as with Zeng Qinghong, a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee, who are behind the most serious corrupt elements of the CCP. They gave more than 1.7 million square kilometers of Chinese territory to Russia and other countries, and oversaw the bloody harvesting of organs from Falun Gong adherents.
Wang, who was a hand-picked confidant of Jiang and Zeng, served them in Zhongnanhai from 1995 to 2012.
Xi actually empowered Wang by promoting him to the Standing Committee of the Politburo, and still relies on him heavily. It’s speculated that Wang had the lead in dealing with Ren’s case; his aim is to become vice chairman of the CCP Central Committee at the 20th National Congress in 2022.
While that’s impossible to confirm, judging from the history of the CCP, it’s likely true. There are other officials such as Wang in Zhongnanhai who know how to toe the Party line, and it was inevitable that people such as Ren, who dared to tell the truth, would be severely punished.
The inevitable result is that Xi is surrounded by enemies within the regime, making it harder for him to hear the truth; Xi could also be harmed by those enemies.
Weakening and Dividing the CCP
Ren has three identities: 1) a red second-generation (son of a Party elder)—his father Ren Quansheng was the vice minister of commerce; 2) an entrepreneur—as chairman of Beijing Huayuan Property; 3) a close friend of Wang Qishan, the current vice president of China.
Ren’s criticism of Xi and his response to the pandemic represents the views of a group of the red second generation. For example, Cai Xia, a former professor of the CCP Party School who now resides in the United States, supported Ren.
The criticism also represents the views of a group of entrepreneurs. After Ren was arrested, an online open letter to Xi from a group of entrepreneurs was reportedly made available through Premier Li Keqiang.
The letter put forward nine major requirements: 1) adhere to former leader Deng Xiaoping’s line; 2) deny the Cultural Revolution; 3) initiate political reform; 4) non-discrimination of private enterprises; 5) protect entrepreneurs; 6) relief funds for the entire population; 7) accountability for the pandemic; 8) reinvestigate the Li Wenliang incident [Li was an ophthalmologist at the Wuhan Central Hospital who was among the first group of people to publicize information about the outbreak]; and 9) release Ren.
Ren once said that he often called Wang Qishan in the middle of the night for long talks. Wang was one of the important members of the reformists within the CCP’s system in his early years, and may have thoughts about Xi’s step-by-step reversion to the Cultural Revolution atmosphere in the past three years. Ren and Wang may have shared the same ideology.
Ren’s punishment will inevitably lead to further division among the red second generation, as those who agree with Ren will gradually drift away from Xi, and will inevitably accelerate the division of Chinese entrepreneurs who also will gradually drift away. And while some high-level CCP officials will bear it for a while under high pressure, these people won’t support Xi when the time is right to walk away.
Some commentators think different factions within the CCP only superficially show respect for Xi. They will certainly not hope for cooperation, but will wait for the opportunity to overthrow him. Except for a handful of trusted followers such as Li Zhanshu (chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, which is China’s rubber-stamp legislature), the battle between Xi and everyone else has begun.
Hold CCP Accountable
U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed dissatisfaction with the CCP’s handling of the pandemic. On Sept. 22, Trump told the U.N. General Assembly, “We must hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world: China.”
On July 23, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated in a speech, “General Secretary Xi Jinping is a true believer in a bankrupt totalitarian ideology.”
Pompeo said in a speech at the Prestonwood Baptist Church in Texas on Sept. 20, “We can’t forget world history. A godless Adolf Hitler destroyed millions and millions of lives, Chairman Mao in China, and even now today, the Chinese Communist Party.”
The CCP’s harsh sentencing of Ren has made the United States and the international community more aware of the inhumane nature of the CCP. After the novel coronavirus first broke out in Wuhan late last year, the CCP dictatorship silenced eight doctors who told their peers the truth about the deadly nature of the virus.
On Sept. 22, the CCP suppressed Ren for exposing the truth of the regime’s botched handling of the pandemic. This shows that the CCP completely stands on the opposite side of all Chinese people and people of the world. If the CCP isn’t eradicated, the people of China—and the rest of the world—will have no peace.
The United States has begun a series of powerful measures to counter communist China, and an international anti-communist alliance led by the United States is taking shape.
The CCP’s treatment of Ren will only make the regime lose more support from the people and accelerate its demise. While the CCP sentenced Ren to 18 years in prison, the Party’s remaining life span is certainly less than that.
After the CCP falls, a major trial will occur to hold the regime accountable. Yet Xi continues to follow the path of protecting the Party, putting himself in danger.
Wang Youqun graduated with a doctorate in law from the Renmin University of China. He once worked as an aide and copywriter for Wei Jianxing (1931–2015), a member of the CCP Politburo Standing Committee from 1997 to 2002.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.