His nickname in China was “The Cannon,” and Ren Zhiqiang’s most recent commentary was among the his most explosive however.

Mr. Ren, an outspoken house tycoon in Beijing, wrote in a scathing essay that China’s leader, Xi Jinping, was a energy-hungry “clown.” He explained the ruling Communist Party’s strict limitations on no cost speech experienced exacerbated the coronavirus epidemic.

Now Mr. Ren, a single of the most prominent critics of Mr. Xi in mainland China, is missing, his friends reported on Saturday.

His disappearance will come amid a far-reaching marketing campaign by the occasion to quash criticism of its sluggish, secretive first reaction to the epidemic, which has killed around 3,100 persons in China and sickened additional than 80,000.

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