Before going missing,Mr. Ren, a property magnate in Beijing, wrote in a scathing essay that the head of China, Xi Jinping, was a power-hungry clown. He said that the Communist Party’s strict limits on freedom of expression had exacerbated the coronavirus epidemic.
His disappearance comes amid a far-reaching party-led campaign by the Chinese government to quash Xi Jiping’s criticism for his slow and secret initial response to the epidemic.
Party member Mr. Ren is well known for his harsh criticism of Mr. Xi in 2016 and also his criticism of the Chinese news mediator for not serving the people but the party.His remarks opened a window on the growing frustrations of Chinese intellectuals and entrepreneurs with Mr Xis increasingly authoritarian regime. The party intervened quickly claiming that he had lost his party spirit. They even put him on probation.
Since then, the government has closely monitored Mr. Rens’ movements to an extent of preventing him from leaving the country and deleting his accounts on social networks, where he had built up a large following.
In recent weeks, a trial by Mr. Ren started to circulate among the elite circles in China and abroad. In it, he blamed the government for silencing whistle blowers and trying to cover up the epidemic. Although he did not explicitly use Mr. Xis’s name in the commentary, Mr. Ren left no doubt that he was talking about the head of China, referring to several times to the speeches and actions of Mr. Xis.
“I don’t see a standing emperor showing off his new clothes, but a clown who has stripped naked and insisted on continuing to be emperor.” he wrote. “You make no secret of your firm ambition to be an emperor and your determination to destroy anyone who will not let you pass.”
As of Saturday his whereabouts were still unclear and Beijing police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.