Two Arrests, Two Outcomes Tell a Tale of Xi Jinping’s China



Below Mr. Xi, the celebration’s historically suspicious stance towards businesspeople who’re politically lively or outspoken has worsened. Wang Gongquan, a former enterprise capitalist who financed advocacy for extra liberal social and political insurance policies, was among the many first high-profile people jailed after Mr. Xi got here to energy. Ren Zhiqiang, a retired actual property tycoon, was sentenced final yr to 18 years in jail after he repeatedly criticized Mr. Xi’s insurance policies, together with the federal government’s mishandling of the early days of the coronavirus outbreak.

In non-public chatrooms and behind closed doorways, some individuals are asking what sign Beijing is sending to the non-public sector by arresting Mr. Solar. Outspoken and beneficiant, Mr. Solar is in some methods the mannequin of the civic-minded businessman the celebration extols. He has constructed a city — Dawu Metropolis — round his firm’s campus in rural Hebei Province, full with a hospital with 1,000 beds.

“My dream,” he as soon as stated, “is to construct a contemporary metropolis within the countryside.”

Mr. Solar, 66, was born in Xushui, in Hebei Province, a couple of two-hour drive south of Beijing. He joined the Individuals’s Liberation Military after graduating from center faculty. He left the military eight years later and moved again to his hometown to work on the state-owned Agricultural Financial institution of China.


A curious and stressed soul, he studied faculty legislation and took Chinese language literature programs in his spare time. In 1985, he stop his banking job and began a enterprise with 1,000 chickens and 50 pigs. His firm, Dawu Agricultural and Animal Husbandry Group, now employs about 9,000 individuals, many from close by villages.

As his enterprise grew, Mr. Solar sought out liberal intellectuals in Beijing. By the spring of 2003, he was changing into a voice for farmers and entrepreneurs’ rights, giving speeches at high Chinese language universities.

After irritating the authorities, he was arrested on accusations of unlawful fund-raising. His new pals leapt to his protection. Authorized students argued that the legislation he was accused of violating had been written in a approach that gave the authorities broad discretion to cost businessmen who fell out of favor.

Liu Xiaobo, the human rights activist who later turned a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and who died in jail in 2017, defined then that Mr. Solar “poses an amazing problem for the present system.” As an entrepreneur, wrote Mr. Liu, Mr. Solar despised bribery, had the monetary assets to behave independently and had the braveness to talk up and urge political reform.


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