Businessman jailed for 20 years after criticizing Communist Party and other offences

Published (HKT): 2020.11.21 06:00

A businessman in Chongqing was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in jail on Friday for circulating comments critical of the Communist Party and other offences.

Pawn shop owner Li Huaiqing was convicted of fraud, blackmail and inciting subversion of state power by the Chongqing First Intermediate Court. The verdict and sentence came almost three years after Li’s arrest.

The 54-year-old chairperson of Chongqing-based Fuhua Pawn company was arrested for alleged gang-related activity in early 2018. Months later, Li was accused of fraud, blackmail and inciting subversion of state power through articles and voice recordings that he shared on social media.

According to his indictment, Li read and passed on articles critical of the Communist Party, including one claiming “the Fourth Red Army killed millions of people in Sichuan.” Li also circulated voice recordings mentioning “violent revolts”, on the messaging platform WeChat, it said.

The Fourth Red Army was one of the Communist Party’s main military forces during its revolution in the 1930s.

Authorities froze more than 100 million yuan (US$15.2 million) in assets held by Li and his sister, who had no role in the alleged offences.

During his trial this June, Li admitted that during a charity event in 2017, he had talked about corruption in mainland police and suggested reporting the problems to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

His wife, Bao Yan, told Apple Daily on Friday that she would appeal against her husband’s sentence. She accused the authorities of fabricating evidence for the blackmail and fraud charges.

Bao also said officials warned her that if she talked to foreign media she would be arrested for seeking to cause disturbances.

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