In 1985, Sun Dawu, who has become a Chinese entrepreneur, and his wife started their business with a thousand chickens and 50 pigs. Ten years later, they founded the Dawu Group, which grew to become one of the top 500 Chinese private enterprises. Today, it is the leading company in the agricultural sector in Hebei Province. Headquartered on 800 acres, it has more than 9,000 employees with fixed assets of US$204 million and an annual revenue of more than US$456 million. The Group also has 28 affiliates and a joint venture.
On Nov. 11, at around 1 a.m., six busloads of special force police officers carrying ladders, armed with submachine guns, and accompanied by K-9 dogs, broke into Sun’s home at Baoding Xushui District, Hebei Province. The subdivision is one he built himself, and it is where he, his family, and his employees live.
Southern Weekend reported that the couple, along with their two sons and two daughters-in-law, as well as other executives, were taken away, leaving Sun’s young grandson at home under police watch. Sun Dawu and others were charged with causing disturbances that disrupted production and operations. As a result, the local government has taken full control of the Dawu Group.
A netizen commented that the forceful takeover of the Dawu Group might set a dangerous precedent. It is considered to be “fighting the nouveau richer,” a modern version of “fighting the local tyrants” that the Chinese Communist Party engaged in during 1928 when they used violent methods to confiscate private land and property in China.
Wang Yingguo, a good friend of Sun, an entrepreneur and civil rights activist, told VOA that Sun’s incident was related to a land dispute between the Dawu Group and Xu Shui State Farm.
On June 21 and August 4 this year, Dawu Group and the Xushui State Farm had two clashes. In the early hours of August 4th, Xushui State Farm personnel attempted to demolish the Dawu Group’s office in Lang Wuzhuang Village without permission, but they were blocked by Dawu employees. Police in Xushui District intervened and dozens of Dawu employees and villagers were injured.
Since then, Sun Dawu, in an interview with the media, said that the police took the side of the Xu Shui State Farm because they are state-owned, but in reality, they are using the name of the state for personal gain only.
According to Wang Yingguo, this is only one of the reasons. He went on to tell VOA that over the years, the Dawu Group had developed rapidly into an independent community. The Group built a gymnasium that can accommodate 20,000 people and a luxury hospital with 16 floors. Residents in Lang Wuzhuang village and employees of the Dawu Group only need to pay US$0.15 per month to see a doctor and US$1.50 for a comprehensive medical examination. The local authorities felt threatened by these popular benefits.
Wang Ruiqin, who is from the United States, is an entrepreneur who knew Sun Dawu. He described Sun as a thoughtful and responsible person. The CCP perceives a sizable private enterprise as a threat to the government when the business owners can think independently, are interested in government policies, and have a different view from the CCP. They are considered dissidents and would be restricted or even repressed.
Sun, age 66, is a legendary entrepreneur. He has accumulated massive wealth but lives a humble life without mansions or dedicated vehicles. And yet, he materialized his life-long dream of providing the villagers with affordable housing, medical care, and an education for their children. A video posted on Twitter showed Sun stating that he would not allow his hospital to make a profit from the patients, and if it did, it would be a disgrace to him.
This arrest is not Sun’s first. In 2003, he was sentenced to three years in prison for the crime of “illegal fund-raising.” In an exclusive interview with a financial reporter after his release from prison, Mr. Dawu said: “I am innocent, but I am isolated, considered incompatible with the social norms. I understand the unspoken rules, but I did not and will not adapt. Instead, I will continue to do what I think is right. I will succeed, but I will also have a tragic ending.”
Sun has been outspoken about his views on the inequalities caused by the CCP’s policies. In 2012, in his article “The Road to Urbanization in China,” he criticized the government and stated that the numerous Chinese bureaucratic layers are crushing the livelihood of the farmers at the bottom of Chinese society.
Translated by Yi Ming and edited by Angela M