Ren Zhiqiang, the property tycoon nicknamed “Big Cannon,” was notorious for his blunt criticisms of the Communist Party, and yet his wealth and political connections long seemed to shield him from severe punishment. Until now.
綽號「任大炮」的房地產大亨任志強因敢於直言不諱地批評中國共產黨而聞名,然而很長時間裡,他的財富和政治關係似乎讓他免受嚴懲。直到現在。
A court in Beijing sentenced Mr. Ren to 18 years in prison on Tuesday. The court said he was guilty of graft, taking bribes, misusing public funds and abusing his power during and after his time as an executive at a property development company.
北京一家法院週二判處任志強有期徒刑18年,稱他在擔任一家房地產開發公司主管期間和卸任後,犯有貪污罪、受賄罪、挪用公款罪和國有公司人員濫用職權罪。
Mr. Ren’s supporters and sympathizers said that his real crime was criticizing the Communist Party and calling the country’s hard-line leader, Xi Jinping, a “clown.”
但任志強的支持者和同情者說,他真正的罪行是批評中共,把中國的強硬派領導人習近平稱為「小丑」。
“Very clearly this was punishment for his words, that’s going to be obvious to everyone,” Guo Yuhua, a sociologist in Beijing, said by telephone. “Those economic problems — this one, that one — can be concocted whenever you want.”
「非常明顯的是因言獲罪,這點所有的人都會明白,」家住北京的社會學者郭於華在電話中說。「那些經濟上的問題——這個問題,那個問題——他想編造出來就可以編造出來。」
廣告
Mr. Ren’s punishment has underlined how far Mr. Xi has rolled back allowances for dissent, even from members of the elite like Mr. Ren, a scion of a Communist family and former friend of senior officials. His supporters also see the long prison term as a warning to others, especially elites, who may be thinking about openly challenging the party and Mr. Xi.
對任志強的懲罰突顯了習近平在允許異議空間上後退了多遠,就連任志強這樣出身中共高級官員家庭、曾與高級官員為友的精英人物也不能倖免。他的支持者還認為,這樣長的刑期是對其他人的警告,尤其是可能想公開挑戰中共和習近平的精英們。
“Cracking down on Ren Zhiqiang, using economic crimes to punish him, is a warning to others — killing one to warn a hundred,” said Cai Xia, an acquaintance of Mr. Ren’s who formerly taught at the Central Party School, which trains rising officials.
「打壓任志強,用經濟犯罪來懲罰他,是要給大家發警告,是殺一儆百,」任志強的熟人蔡霞說,她曾在培訓新晉官員的中央黨校任教。
“It’s a warning to the whole party and especially to red offspring,” Ms. Cai said, referring to the children of party officials. She spoke before the court’s judgment in a telephone interview from the United States, where she now lives.
「是要給全黨看的,尤其是給紅二代看的,」蔡霞說,她指的是中共官員的子女。蔡霞現居美國,這些話是她在法院判決前接受電話採訪時說的。
At 69, Mr. Ren is old enough that he could spend the rest of his life in prison unless his sentence is reduced.
任志強現年69歲,除非刑期縮短,他的年齡意味著他可能將在監獄裡度過餘生。
So far, the Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court has issued few details of the evidence that it said proved Mr. Ren had illegally enriched himself by about $2.9 million between 2003 and 2017. The official summary of the court’s judgment said that his abuses had led Chinese state-owned companies to lose around $17 million. The court said that he had “fully admitted to the facts of all the crimes and willingly accepted the court’s judgment.”
北京市第二中級人民法院認定任志強在2003年至2017年期間非法獲利1941萬餘元,到目前為止,它還未發布多少相關證據細節。官方公布的法院判決書摘要稱,他的濫用職權致使中國國有企業損失了1.167億餘元。法院稱,他「承認所指控的全部犯罪事實,並自願接受法院判決」。
But his case was cloaked in secrecy, and the court’s decision was swift by the standards of politically sensitive cases that come before China’s party-controlled courts. The court did not say when Mr. Ren’s trial took place, but supporters said the court posted an announcement that his trial was to be held on Sept. 11. The news of his sentence was downplayed by Chinese state-run news outlets, which mostly carried the court’s statement.
然而,他的案子籠罩在祕密氣氛中,而且按照中共控制的法院審理政治敏感案件的標準,法院作出判決的速度極快。雖然法院未說明任志強的審判於何時進行,但支持者說,法院曾張貼過公告,稱將在9月11日進行審判。中國的官方新聞媒體沒有對任志強被判刑的消息作多少報導,大都只是刊登了法院的聲明。
廣告
“This is political persecution, plain and simple,” Ms. Cai said. “He was already audited when he retired, and then repeatedly checked again in 2016.”
「這個明明白白就是政治迫害,」蔡霞說。「他退休的時候已經審計過,然後在2016年又反覆地查他。」
Mr. Ren retired from the Huayuan company in 2014. He waded into political hot water in 2016, when he scoffed at Mr. Xi’s call for Chinese journalists to staunchly follow the Communist Party. But at the time the party’s punishment was relatively light: it put Mr. Ren on probation and he received a round of censuring by the state news media.
任志強於2014年從華遠集團退休。2016年,他嘲笑習近平要求中國記者聽黨話跟黨走,從而惹上了政治麻煩。但當時中共對他的處罰相對較輕:任志強被留黨察看,並遭到國有新聞媒體的一輪譴責。
This time, Mr. Ren was detained in March after he criticized Mr. Xi’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak that spread across China and then the world from late last year. In an essay that spread on the internet, he said the officials’ mishandling of the outbreak — including stifling information about initial infections — vindicated his 2016 warning against stifling public criticism.
這次,任志強在今年3月被拘留,那之前他曾批評習近平應對新冠病毒暴發的做法,該病毒自去年年底席捲中國,然後傳播到世界各地。他在網上流傳的一篇文章中說,官員對疫情暴發處理不當——包括最初壓制傳染的消息——證明了他2016年對壓制公眾批評發出的警告是正確的。
After citing a February speech in which Mr. Xi defended the party’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, Mr. Ren wrote, “Standing there was not an emperor showing off his ‘new clothes,’ but a clown stripped of his clothes who still insisted on being emperor.”
在引用今年2月份習近平為捍衛中共應對新冠病毒危機發表的講話後,任志強寫道,「那裡站著的不是一位皇帝在展示自己的『新衣』,而是一位剝光了衣服也要堅持當皇帝的小丑。」
In July, the Communist Party announced that Mr. Ren had been expelled and that he had been placed under criminal investigation. The party announcement said that Mr. Ren’s misdeeds included using public funds to pay for use of a golf course. But the announcement also singled out Mr. Ren’s opinions, accusing him of distorting party history and being disloyal.
今年7月,中共宣布開除任志強黨籍,並將他移送司法部門接受刑事調查。中共的公告稱,任志強的罪行包括使用公款購買高爾夫球卡。但公告也專門提到任志強的觀點,指責他扭曲歷史,對黨不忠。
“Ren Zhiqiang lost his ideals and convictions,” the party said. “On major matters of principle, he failed to stay in line with the party’s central authorities.”
「任志強喪失理想信念,」中共稱。「在重大原則問題上不同黨中央保持一致。」
廣告
While other Chinese people have criticized the Chinese government, and suffered punishment for it, Mr. Ren stood out for his ties to the party establishment and for his willingness as a prominent businessman to bluntly criticize the party.
儘管其他中國人也曾批評中國政府,並因此受到懲罰,但任志強作為與中共關係密切的傑出商人,他敢於直言不諱地批評中共的做法顯得尤其特別。
He came from a family steeped in Communist Party tradition — his father served as a vice minister of commerce — and he was once close to senior party leaders, including Vice President Wang Qishan.
他來自一個有著共產黨深厚傳統的家庭——他的父親曾擔任商務部副部長——他也曾與中共高層領導人關係密切,包括國家副主席王岐山。
Like many in his generation, Mr. Ren worked in the countryside and then as a soldier before he ventured into business in the 1980s, when China’s market economy was opening under Deng Xiaoping. He made his name and his fortune in real estate, overseeing the Huayuan property company. City authorities in Beijing held a controlling stake in the company, but Mr. Ren left his stamp on it.
與許多同代人一樣,任志強曾在農村工作,後來參軍,最後在鄧小平敞開中國市場經濟大門的1980年代下海經商。他曾管理經營華遠房地產公司,靠房地產發家並出了名。雖然北京市政府持有華遠的控制股權,但任志強給公司留下了自己的印記。
He was “confident, decisive, aggressive, like a commanding officer in the military,” a Beijing official-turned-businessman, He Yang, wrote in a memoir shared on the Chinese internet.
從北京官員轉行當商人的賀陽在中國互聯網上分享的回憶文章中寫道,他「自信、果斷、強勢,很像是部隊的一位指揮官」。
Even before he ventured into political debate, Mr. Ren ignited controversy with his public comments on the economy and the housing market. His many profiles in Chinese magazines often mention an incident in 2010 when a man threw a shoe at him while he was attending a real estate forum at a high-end hotel.
甚至在他涉足政治辯論之前,任志強也曾因經濟和房地產市場的公開言論引起過爭議。中國雜誌發表的許多關於他的人物報導中都經常提到2010年的一件事,當時他正在一家高檔酒店參加一個房地產論壇,一名男子向他扔了一隻鞋。
Mr. Ren appeared to brush off the criticism, and embraced the opportunities to share his views on the internet.
任志強似乎並不介意批評,欣然接受在互聯網上分享觀點的機會。
廣告
“What’s most lacking in this society isn’t lies but truth-speaking,” Mr. Ren said in 2013.
「在這個社會上最缺的不是謊言而是實話,」任志強曾在2013年這樣說
Mr. Ren has joined a handful of wealthy and educated Chinese who have spoken out against the party’s expanding power, and have been punished as a result.
近來,一小批富有且受過教育的中國人向中共日益擴大的權力發起挑戰,並在事後吃到苦頭。任志強加入了這一行列。
Since coming to power in 2012, Mr. Xi has steadily throttled dissent in China, and he has been especially incensed at wayward party members who criticize his policies.
自2012年上台以來,習近平一直在中國逐步壓制異議,對批評他政策的難以控制的中共黨員尤其憤怒
“Never allow eating the Communist Party’s food and then smashing the Communist Party’s cooking pot,” Mr. Xi said in 2014, according to a book collecting his comments on risks to China and the party that was published last month.
「絕對不允許吃共產黨的飯,砸共產黨的鍋,」習近平曾在2014年這樣說,這句話出現在上個月出版的習近平關於中國和中共面臨的風險的語錄中。
This month, the police in Beijing detained Geng Xiaonan, a businesswoman who runs a publishing company. Ms. Geng had supported Xu Zhangrun, a professor of law at the prestigious Tsinghua University, who had condemned Mr. Xi’s hard-line policies in a series of essays.
本月,北京警方拘留了經營一家出版公司的商人耿瀟男,她曾支持著名的清華大學的法學教授許章潤,後者曾在一系列文章中譴責習近平的強硬政策。
Mr. Xu was detained by the police for about a week in July, and Ms. Geng had leapt to his defense after investigators said he had used prostitutes, an accusation he vehemently denied.
許章潤於今年7月被警方拘留了大約一週,在調查人員稱其嫖娼後,耿瀟男曾站出來為許章潤辯護。許章潤本人也堅決否認這一指控。
廣告
The police have said that Ms. Geng and her husband were accused of conducting illegal business activities. Their supporters say Ms. Geng was targeted for helping Mr. Xu and other dissenters who have run foul of the party.
警方稱,耿瀟男及其丈夫涉嫌從事非法經營活動。但他們的支持者說,耿瀟男因幫助許章潤和其他違抗中共的異見者而成為打擊目標。
Ms. Cai, the former party school professor, was expelled from the Communist Party last month after she scathingly denounced Mr. Xi’s policies in speeches and essays.
曾在中共黨校任教的蔡霞在講話和文章中嚴厲譴責了習近平的政策後被開除黨籍。
For a while after his 2016 censure, Mr. Ren appeared to retreat from public view. He held an exhibition late last year to showcase his new love of artistic carpentry. But as the coronavirus gripped China, Mr. Ren seemed unable to hold back from sharing his scathing criticisms of the government with friends.
在2016年遭到嚴厲批評後的一段時間裡,任志強似乎退出了公眾視線。去年年底,他舉辦了一個展覽,展示對藝術木工的新愛好。但隨著新冠病毒在中國蔓延,任志強似乎忍不住了,他與朋友們分享了他對政府的嚴厲批評。
Rights activists criticized Mr. Ren’s 18-year sentence as excessive. Sophie Richardson, the China director at Human Rights Watch, called it “off-the-charts ruthless” and said the court’s account of Mr. Ren fully capitulating was alarming, as it used language that often indicated that defendants were under immense pressure.
人權活動人士批評政府判處任志強18年徒刑過於嚴厲。人權觀察組織(Human Rights Watch)的中國部主任芮莎菲(Sophie Richardson)稱這種重判「極度殘酷」,並說法院對任志強完全接受判決的描述使人驚恐,因為這種說法通常意味著被告遭受了巨大的壓力。
“It rings alarm bells that they are trying to avoid ill-treatment,” Ms. Richardson said, “not that they have become cheerleaders of Xi’s rule by law.”
「這是一種危險信號,表明被告是在試圖避免遭受虐待,」芮莎菲說。「而不是表明他們變成了為習近平法治搖旗吶喊的人。」