Outspoken Chinese agricultural entrepreneur Sun Dawu and his staff members were taken away by police for allegedly “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” over a land dispute with a state-run farm.
Sun is the founder of the Hebei Dawu Agricultural and Animal Husbandry Group based in Baoding. Gaobeidian city police detained Sun and his group’s top management in the early hours of Wednesday.
The arrest was related to the land dispute with a state-run farm at the Xushui District in Baoding, according to local sources. Sun and others were accused of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and “sabotaging production and operation.” The latter crime carries a maximum seven-year jail sentence.
The police surrounded the company, and the local government has since taken over the Dawu Group, demanding all subsidiaries and shop branches to remain open except the financial department, Voice of America cited a witness as saying.
The 66-year-old had praised human rights lawyers including Xu Zhiyong online in May, saying that they gave victims hope and some confidence in the law. Xu was arrested in July for alleged “inciting subversion of state power.” Sun also criticized the Chinese economic system in an interview with Radio Free Asia in October.
Dawu Group’s website was suspended for six months in April 2003 after publishing an article on the development of the “Moderately Prosperous Society” — a Chinese term used to describe a society with a functioning middle class — and the difficulties behind it.
Sun was arrested in May 2003 after raising funds of 180 million yuan (US$27.2 million), before a court convicted him of illegally raising funds. He was sentenced to three years in jail, suspended for four years. The court may have given a lenient sentence due to public support, Sun’s lawyer said.
After founding his company in 1984 with 1,000 chickens and 50 pigs, Sun was awarded the top chicken breeder of Hebei province in 1996. The group now occupies 14.3 million square feet of space, with fixed assets of 120 million yuan and annual production value of 150 million yuan. Its businesses include food processing, animal breeding, tourism, education and health, with more than 1,000 employees. Sun was elected a member of the Baoding Municipal People’s Congress in 1995.
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