The disappearance of several Chinese business leaders’ Weibo accounts has recently attracted the public’s attention.
The list of vanished Weibo accounts includes:
Liu Qing, president of “Didi Chuxing,” China’s largest mobile transportation platform.
Liu Chuanzhi, founder of Lenovo Group, one of the largest worldwide computer makers.
Wang Xing, founder of Chinese shopping platform Meituan.
Zhang Yiming, founder of ByteDance, a Chinese multinational internet technology company.
Some of these influential figures once publicly expressed their thoughts. However, they all have retired and remained low profile after their departure.
Many Chinese entrepreneurs have withdrawn from the management board in recent years. For example, Huang Zheng, former CEO of e-commerce company Pinduoduo; Zhang Yiming, former chairman of ByteDance; Liu Qiangdong, founder and former CEO of JD.com, Su Hua, former CEO and co-founder of Kuaishou; Jiang Fan, former president of Taobao and Tmall, etc.
The early stepping-down and their mysterious disappearance from the limelight have stirred questions from the public.
According to Wu Jianzhong, secretary-general of the Taiwan Taoist Tactics Association, their leaving is not a choice but a forced resignation.
Wu said that at the stage of reforming and opening up, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) prioritized making some people get rich at first. Later, these rich people have become the representing image of the CCP for reform and progress.
However, after their corporations turned influential, the CCP wanted to join the management, supervising their operations and taking control of their properties. In other words, Beijing would like to take over everything, and these corporations’ owners have no choice but to comply.
According to Wu, the reasons why these entrepreneurs were purged and imprisoned remain unknown. One thing stands out is that they all had close relations with local governments in the past.
Beijing’s top anti-graft agency in April warned thousands of officials over links with businesses.
It also took down the former Communist Party Secretary of the technology hub of Hangzhou, Zhou Jiangyong. His case is infamous for links to Ant Group, with the Wall Street Journal reporting having roots that trace back to the Jiang Zemin faction.
As for the removal of Weibo accounts, Huang Shicong, a Taiwanese media person and financial expert, considered it a self-protection move.
According to Huang, these business owners want to prevent others from digging up their past online speeches. As the 20th National Congress is upcoming, the factional infighting would snare over their previous remarks.
Huang further added that the entrepreneurial and investment environment would be no longer the same as Beijing’s constant crackdown on enterprises.