Beneath Mr. Xi, the occasion’s historically suspicious stance towards businesspeople who’re politically energetic or outspoken has worsened. Wang Gongquan, a former enterprise capitalist who financed advocacy for extra liberal social and political insurance policies, was among the many first high-profile people jailed after Mr. Xi got here to energy. Ren Zhiqiang, a retired actual property tycoon, was sentenced final 12 months to 18 years in jail after he repeatedly criticized Mr. Xi’s insurance policies, together with the federal government’s mishandling of the early days of the coronavirus outbreak.
In non-public chatrooms and behind closed doorways, some persons are asking what sign Beijing is sending to the non-public sector by arresting Mr. Solar. Outspoken and beneficiant, Mr. Solar is in some methods the mannequin of the civic-minded businessman the occasion extols. He has constructed a city — Dawu Metropolis — round his firm’s campus in rural Hebei Province, full with a hospital with 1,000 beds.
“My dream,” he as soon as stated, “is to construct a contemporary metropolis within the countryside.”
Mr. Solar, 66, was born in Xushui, in Hebei Province, a few two-hour drive south of Beijing. He joined the Individuals’s Liberation Military after graduating from center faculty. He left the military eight years later and moved again to his hometown to work on the state-owned Agricultural Financial institution of China.
A curious and stressed soul, he studied school legislation and took Chinese language literature programs in his spare time. In 1985, he give up his banking job and began a enterprise with 1,000 chickens and 50 pigs. His firm, Dawu Agricultural and Animal Husbandry Group, now employs about 9,000 individuals, many from close by villages.
As his enterprise grew, Mr. Solar sought out liberal intellectuals in Beijing. By the spring of 2003, he was changing into a voice for farmers and entrepreneurs’ rights, giving speeches at prime Chinese language universities.
After irritating the authorities, he was arrested on accusations of unlawful fund-raising. His new pals leapt to his protection. Authorized students argued that the legislation he was accused of violating had been written in a method that gave the authorities broad discretion to cost businessmen who fell out of favor.
Liu Xiaobo, the human rights activist who later turned a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and who died in jail in 2017, defined then that Mr. Solar “poses an incredible problem for the present system.” As an entrepreneur, wrote Mr. Liu, Mr. Solar despised bribery, had the monetary assets to behave independently and had the braveness to talk up and urge political reform.