The Chinese property tycoon, Ren Zhiqiang, 69, has gone missing since Thursday, after he wrote a highly critical article aimed at the Chinese President and the Communist Party over their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He accused the Chinese regime of initially covering up the outbreak but eventually projecting itself as the coronavirus success story. Although his whereabouts are still unknown, it is widely reported in local media that he may have been detained for his criticism of the Chinese President.
What did Ren Zhiqiang write in the article?
He called out the state media, stating that when all media took "the party's surname," people were "abandoned." When the media does not represent people and publish true facts, common people are ravaged both by the virus and the major illness of the system.
On Xi's February 23 teleconferenced speech, Ren made the remark that what he saw not an emperor standing there exhibiting his "new clothes", but a clown who stripped naked and insisted on continuing being emperor.
He pointed out the information gaps throughout the disease's outbreak -- the CCTV report on January 1 about Wuhan's 'rumormonger' doctors, why was information shared with the United States on Jan 3, and why did the government take such a long time to acknowledge the epidemic.
He also asked why the celebration of the Spring Festival was allowed on February 23, leading to widespread community transmission of the disease. The communist party is hailing its "great achievements" to cover-up its embarrassment, by thwarting the truth from being released, Ren wrote.
He profoundly decried the lack of Freedom of Speech and Press in China. Simply trusting the people with freedom of speech could have already achieved a great victory in preventing and managing this epidemic, and there wouldn't be such a huge price to pay, he penned down. "When shameless and ignorant people attempt to resign themselves to the stupidity of the great leader, society becomes a mob that is hard to develop and sustain," he added.
What did Ren's friends and family say about his disappearance?
"I haven't been able to reach Ren Zhiqiang since Thursday night," Wang Ying, an entrepreneur and Ren's friend, said, according to the South China Morning Post. "The disappearance of Ren as a public figure is known to many. Organisations responsible should say what happened as soon as possible," she added.
Zhang Ming, a history professor at Beijing university said, "A citizen can't just disappear, we need to know if he's been taken by any department and where. His family and friends should know", he added. In 2016, Ren was reprimanded, due to his social media posts, which were critical of the Chinese President. His Weibo account, on which he had 37 million followers, was now deleted.