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Critic of Chinese leader sentenced to 18 years in graft case

BEIJING (AP) — The former chairman of a Chinese state-owned real estate company who publicly criticized President Xi Jinping’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Tuesday in a corruption case, the government announced.

Ren Zhiqiang, who had become known for speaking up about censorship and other sensitive topics, disappeared from public view in March after publishing an essay online that accused Xi of mishandling the outbreak that began in December in the central city of Wuhan.

Ren, 69, was convicted of corruption, bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power, a court in Beijing announced.

The former chairman and deputy party secretary of Huayuan Group was expelled from the ruling party in July.

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