An influential former Chinese property executive who had called the Chinese President Xi Jinping a “clown” during a speech about government's efforts to battle the coronavirus outbreak has reportedly gone missing. Three of his friends told Reuters that Ren Zhiqiang, a member of China's ruling Communist Party and a former top executive of state-controlled property developer Huayuan Real Estate Group has not been contactable since March 12.
Wang Ying, businesswoman and Ren's friend reportedly said that many friends are “looking for him” and are becoming “extremely anxious”. She further added that her friend is a “public figure nad his disappearance is widely known”. Wang called out the responsible institutions for him being missing “need to give a reasonable and legal explanation” immediately. Calls by an international news agency to Ren's phone number went unanswered.
Moreover, both Beijing Police and China's State Council Information Office also did not immediately respond to either fax or requested at the moment. An essay was shared by Ren with the people he knew in recent weeks targetted a speech Chinese President made on February 23 which according to state media was teleconferenced to 170,000 party officials nationwide. Later, the copies of the essay was shared online by others. Without mentioning Xi's name Ren had reportedly said that after studying the essay, he “saw not an emperor standing there exhibiting his 'new clothes,' but a clown stripped naked who insisted on continuing being emperor,".
Ren further accused the government that the essay disclosed the “crisis of governance” within the party and acknowledged the lack of free press and speech which had prevented the outbreak from being tackled before December 2019. According to Ren, it further led to a worse situation. Moreover, the executive's disappearance came as censorship over the discussion of the pandemic by the local media and online users has been restricted in recent weeks as the country battles coronavirus outbreak.
First detected in the city of Wuhan, in Hubei Province of China, the coronavirus outbreak has disrupted many lives since December 2019. As per reports, the total number of confirmed cases within China has reportedly hit 80,849 and at least 161,028 cases worldwide. According to reports, the death toll in China has also surpassed 3,199 and the National Health Commission also confirmed more than 25 new cases on March 15. The death toll due to the deadly virus across the world also mounted to over 5,973.
(Image source: AP)