Beijing: Outspoken Chinese tycoon Ren Zhiqiang has been slapped with one-year imprisonment for criticising President Xi Jinping's comments that the country's official media should show absolute loyalty to ruling Communist Party.
The Communist Party committee in Beijing's Xicheng district said in a notice today that Ren, who has been called "China’s Donald Trump", had been placed on probation for a year for seriously violating the party's political discipline, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.
Ren, 65, was the former head of real estate firm Hua Yuan Property.
In Chinese legal terminology probation meant short term incarceration.
Ren, also known as 'Cannon Ren' for his outspoken comments, had on several occasions made improper remarks through online platforms such as popular Chinese microblogging site Weibo, the notice said.
It, however, did not specify which of Ren's remarks were improper, the Post reported.
The notice said Ren had repeatedly posted such comments online that violated the party's "four basic principles" as well as its policy and direction.
Ren who had 37 million followers in his Chinese social media account Weibo, which is akin to Twitter in China, said in his microblog account in February that the news outfits were funded by taxpayers' money, and so should serve the public, rather than the leadership.
His comments were directed at the remarks by Xi during his visit to official media outlets in February that all news media run by the party must speak for the party’s will and protect its authority and unity.
In his comment on the social media, Ren said, "when does the people's government turn into the party's government? (Are the media) funded by party membership dues? Don't waste taxpayers' money on things that do not provide them with services."
Ren's Weibo account was subsequently shut down by China internet watchdog.
An editorial on a news website affiliated with the Beijing municipal party committee accused him of spreading "anti-Communist Party" thoughts.
Ren's violation of party discipline could amount to
challenging the one-party rule as the "four basic principle" stipulates that party members must adhere to the country’s socialist path, dictatorship of the proletariat, the party’s leadership and the political thoughts of Marxism and Maoism, the Post said.
The penalty is the second most severe that can be dealt out to a party member for such an offence.
Ren's punishment came despite Xi's remarks on April 29 calling for greater tolerance of "well-intentioned" criticisms on the online by the intellectuals....