Elites living in the country are vulnerable to disgrace, disappearances or even worse, a 2011 Forbes report titled “Friends don’t let friends become Chinese billionaires” said.
The Communist Party snare on the elite is not only limited to Chinese nationals, according to Business Insider.
Between 2003 and 2011, some 72 billionaires in the Chinese mainland reportedly died of unnatural causes. Among the 72 billionaires, 15 were murdered, 17 committed suicide, seven died from accidents, 14 were executed according to the law and 19 died from diseases.
There were approximately 60,000 people with 100 million yuan in the Chinese mainland at the end of 2010, according to the GroupM Knowledge – Hurun Wealth Report. The 2021 wealth report showed there are now 2,918 people on the list worth at least 2 billion Chinese yuan.
Among the Chinese billionaires that have been subjected to the wrath of the party in recent years is Jack Ma, Alibaba founder and China’s most famous businessman.
Ma disappeared for months after he criticized Chinese regulators in October 2020. He has barely been seen in public since.
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Worth an estimated $48.2 billion, Ma infuriated leaders during an Oct. 24 speech he gave in Shanghai at the Bund Summit when he suggested China needed to reform its financial system, Time reported.
Another billionaire, pig farmer Sun Dawu of the Dawu Agriculture Group, was sentenced to 18 years in prison after he was found guilty of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” in China, a charge commonly used against activists and protesters.
Billionaire actress Zhao Wei also disappeared from the Chinese internet last month with no official explanation.
China’s purge on celebrities and tech billionaires is continually seen as President Xi Jinping embarks on a “common prosperity” campaign to narrow the gap between rich and poor and create “material and spiritual wealth.”