Vanke Chairman Urges Businessmen Not to Keep Silent, Caixin Says

The chairman of China’s largest homebuilder said Chinese businessmen won’t avoid political retribution by keeping silent, and should speak out on matters important to them, according to an article on Caixin.

China Vanke Co. Chairman Wang Shi cited former Chongqing Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai, who once sought his support for policies in the city that included a campaign to revive Mao Zedong-era songs, Caixin reported yesterday on its website. Instead of speaking out against Bo, Wang said he remained silent.

“Entrepreneurs cannot avoid being burnt by the fire, and being silent doesn’t mean you can hide,” Caixin quoted Wang as saying at a conference Aug. 13. “In such an environment, you only need to make sure your voice joins the tide of the times. Then you’ll be safe.”

Wang’s comments mark a departure from business leaders’ typical caution about discussing politics in a country where the Communist Party controls the economy and brooks little dissent. He said businesses should work with lawyers and think tanks to set up funds to protect themselves if they speak out, Caixin reported.

Bo is expected to face trial soon on charges of abuse of power and corruption after his wife was found guilty of murdering a British businessman in 2011.

Wang said he believed he may have been punished if Bo hadn’t been charged and went on to secure higher office. Before his downfall, Bo was considered a possible candidate for the Politburo’s all-powerful standing committee.

The conference where Wang spoke was convened to discuss the case of Zeng Chengjie, who was executed last month for illegal fundraising and fraud. Wang said a protection fund could have helped Zeng, according to Caixin.

Zeng’s case spurred criticism because his family said they weren’t allowed to meet with him before he died, according to the China.org.cn news portal.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Henry Sanderson in Beijing at hsanderson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at rmathieson3@bloomberg.net

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