The Latest Target In China’s Crackdown On Entrepreneurs Is An Outspoken Billionaire
By Emily Feng
15 May 2021
BAODING, HEBEI, CHINA — Billionaire Sun Dawu built an agriculture empire just outside Beijing. To accommodate approximately 9,000 employees and their families, he created a self-contained company town replete with free hospitals, schools and a sports stadium, all named after himself.
Now his conglomerate, the Dawu Agricultural and Animal Husbandry Group, is slipping out of his control, as he faces trial over what appear to be politically motivated charges.
In late April, local authorities arrested Sun and 20 employees — many of them his own family members — after a minor property dispute turned violent. They already had been in detention for half a year over a common administrative issue, for which Sun now faces eight criminal charges, including illegal mining and “seeking quarrels and provoking trouble.” He denies them all.
Over the years, the 67-year-old farmer turned tycoon has defiantly befriended and supported Chinese political dissidents. Now he may become one himself.
His businesses are temporarily in government hands.