He was found guilty of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” – a charge often used against activists…reports Asian Lite News
Chinese billionaire businessmen Sun Dawu, who has been vocal in criticising Chinese authorities on human rights and about its handling of the COVID-19, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison, the latest in a string of punishments against outspoken corporate bosses.
Sun, 67, who runs one of the country’s largest private agricultural businesses in the northern province of Hebei, has in the past spoken out about human rights and politically sensitive topics, according to a BBC report.
He was found guilty of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” – a charge often used against activists, according to the report.
Other charges against him include provoking trouble and disturbing public order, illegal mining, encroachment on state farmland, obstructing public service and illegal fundraising.
Sun founded the Dawu Group in 1989 and has since built it into a huge empire spanning agriculture, tourism and health care. It also has businesses ranging from meat processing and pet food to schools and hospitals.
He was reportedly detained last year, along with 20 relatives and business associates, over a land dispute with a government-run farm. At the time, he said dozens of his employees were injured in an incident with police related to the dispute, according to an AFP report.
Sun is said 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, said the BBC report.
He also was sentenced to prison in 2003, for “illegal fundraising” but the case was overturned after an outpouring of support from activists and the public.
Sun reportedly denied many of the accusations against him in a pre-trial hearing, describing himself as an “outstanding Communist party member”, the BBC reported.
Sun is not the first businessman who is facing the heat for criticising the administration.
Alibaba chief Jack Ma also paid for pushing back against Beijing. China imposed a record fine of 18.2 billion yuan ($2.8 billion) on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd after an anti-monopoly probe found that it had abused its dominant market position.
Alibaba has been under mounting pressure from Chinese authorities since Ma spoke out against China’s regulatory approach to the finance sector in October. (with inputs from ANI)