China: Trial begins against businessman who criticised Xi govt's COVID-19 response

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Beijing [China], July 16 (ANI): A trial began on Thursday in China's northern province of Hebei against a Chinese anti-government businessman, who has been vocal in criticising Chinese authorities about its handling of the COVID-19.

Sun Dawu, who led The Dawu Group, has clandestinely supported pro-democracy activists who have been persecuted by the authorities, Kyodo News reported.

He has been accused of provoking trouble and disturbing public order, illegal mining, encroachment on state farmland, obstructing public service and illegal fundraising, among other charges.

Sun, 66, founded the Dawu Group in 1989 and has since built it into a huge empire spanning agriculture, tourism and health care.

The Dawu Group is a major firm that has around 9,000 employees and 28 affiliated enterprises. They are engaged in such businesses as poultry farming, food manufacturing and tourism.

In November 2020, local security authorities suddenly started to charge about 30 people involving Sun and his family members. Along with them, executives of Sun's group were prosecuted in May on suspicion of several crimes.

Sun is not the first businessman who is facing the heat for criticising the administration. Alibaba chief Jack Ma also paid for pushing back against Beijing.

China imposed a record fine of 18.2 billion yuan (USD2.8 billion) on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd after an anti-monopoly probe found that it had abused its dominant market position.

The government led by President Xi Jinping has been strengthening surveillance on big private companies, which have been recently growing and could threaten the maintenance of the Communist Party's rule in the future. (ANI)

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