Chinese Tycoon Ren Punished by Party After Posts on Social Media

Ren Zhiqiang, the tycoon who spoke out on social media against Chinese President Xi Jinping tightening controls over state media, was put on a year’s probation as a Communist Party member for making “wrong comments” that violated the party’s principles.

The retired property developer’s behavior breached party discipline, the party’s Xicheng district committee in Beijing said in a statement on a government website.

Ren, the former chairman of Huayuan Property Co., was known for airing outspoken comments and had amassed 37 million followers before his accounts on Sina Corp’s Weibo and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s QQ were closed by regulators in February for spreading “illegal information.”

Ren’s accounts were shut after he made a post on Weibo criticizing Xi’s assertion that the job of state media was to serve the party, instead of the taxpayers who fund its budget. “When does the people’s government turn into the party’s government?” he said. The posts were deleted.

In February, Xi toured top media outlets in Beijing and issued orders that they “reflect the will” of the party and “preserve the authority of the party.” The edict represented the latest in a series of Xi moves to centralize power and rein in dissent, including jailing reporters, detaining influential Internet commentators and passing rules to keep party members from criticizing the leadership.

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