Police arrest Sun Dawu, prominent Chinese human rights advocate and founder of Hebei Dawu Agricultural and Animal Husbandry Group; additionally detain more than 12 company officials

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Chinese chicken, illustrative of poultry starting Sun Dawu's enterprise.
(Photo: Flickr)

(Baoding, Hebei Province —Nov. 14, 2020) At midnight on November 11 (Beijing time), police arrested Sun Dawu, a prominent Chinese private entrepreneur and founder of Hebei Dawu Agricultural and Animal Husbandry Group, and the group’s chairman, Sun Meng. Arrests included more than 12 high-ranking company officials. As Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authorities investigate the case, they have assumed control of the Dawu Group.

One employee indicated that this operation involved several hundred public safety personnel (some reports have estimated 300 police officers). The Baoding Public Security Bureau of Hebei Province officially confirmed the arrest of Mr. Sun and others. The Gaobeidian (Baoding) Public Security Bureau will complete the investigation.

The day prior to Mr. Sun's detainment, he posted a video on the Chinese social media platform, Weibo, of himself eating chicken. "I came to Dawu Food Company at noon to taste Dawu smoked chicken. It’s pretty good," he said.

Public information shows that in the past, Mr. Sun has been nationally known as the "Zhuangyuan of raising chickens." (Zhuang yuan is a title given to the scholar who achieved the highest honors in the imperial exam in ancient China) Mr. Sun served as the chairman of Dawu Group until 2005. At that time, he became Chief Advisor.

Once ranked as one of the top 500 private enterprises in China, Dawu Group employs more than 9,000 workers, owns two billion renminbi in fixed assets, and reports an annual output value of more than three billion renminbi. The group's business development includes planting, breeding, and processing of agriculture products. The company also engages in agricultural tourism, private education, and elder medical care.

Mr. Sun, from Xushui county of Hebei Province, once worked in the military and also in a bank. Born in 1954, into poverty with parents who picked scraps for a living, he began his entrepreneurship raising poultry.

In 2003, three articles Mr. Sun published on an enterprise website caused discontent among authorities. Consequently, officials sentenced Mr. Sun to three years in prison in the name of an economic crime. The financial sector intensely responded to this sentence, with many supporters disputing the court's decision.

In a New York Times article, published in 2012, Mr. Sun addressed difficulties Chinese private enterprises faced. He called on China to implement a market economy. He also noted that in the names of "illegal fundraising," "illegal production," and "unlawful operation," authorities wipe out many private enterprises. "Small to mid-size private enterprises experience hardship in pioneering, developing, and longevity," he said.

On August 4, Chinese government officials seized land the Dawu Group owned. During the course of confiscating the property which intersected with a state-owned farm, public safety personnel inflicted injuries on numerous employees who tried to prevent the illegal process. Police, however, intervened and arrested 39 of those individuals.

Perhaps, some say, this experience contributed to Mr. Sun’s sympathy and understanding for the protection of Chinese citizens' rights. The Associated Press once reported that Mr. Sun praised Dr. Xu Zhiyong, a human rights lawyer, who helped him. Chinese authorities, however, did not respond favorably to Dr. Xu Zhiyong’s actions and arrested him and fellow activists for "inciting subversion of state power."

In May, Mr. Sun further commended human rights lawyers on social media, hoping to encourage victims to maintain the little faith left towards the law, and ignite their hope for survival.

Some consider Mr. Sun a thinker who deeply worries about Chinese farmers' future. Some have called him the "conscience of Chinese entrepreneurs." Professor Cai Xia, retired principal of CCP central party school said, “Sun Dawu, a thoughtful entrepreneur firmly pursues constitutional democracy. He has faced CCP's long term autocratic tyranny, and this time once again, he faced political oppression."

In cases like Mr. Sun’s, however, when citizens express any sympathy and support for human rights activism and dissidents, Xi Jinping's administration considers this a form of "political confrontation."

Perhaps Mr. Sun’s case, beginning with his arrest at midnight on November 11 (Beijing time), will bring a shred of light to this clouded, convoluted concept.

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