Chinese Agriculture Mogul Sun Dawu Could Face 25 Years in Jail: Lawyers

The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is taking a harder line with powerful private corporations and their wealthy founders.

Chinese Agriculture Mogul Sun Dawu Could Face 25 Years in Jail: Lawyers

Authorities in China are pushing for a jail term of 25 years for outspoken billionaire Sun Dawu, who is currently detained on suspicion of a slew of charges including "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble," a charge often used to target peaceful critics of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Sun, who founded an agriculture business in the northern city of Baoding, once presided over a company of some 9,000 employees, who were housed in a purpose-built town and offered schools, free health care, and sports facilities.

He was detained in April 2021 alongside 20 Dawu Agricultural and Animal Husbandry Group employees, some of whom are members of his family. Company assets have been seized by local officials.

Sun, 67, currently faces eight criminal charges including "illegal mining" and "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble."

Sun's lawyers say the decision to crack down on Sun and the Dawu group was likely made by high-ranking government officials in the northern province of Hebei.

His defense team are currently in a pretrial meeting with prosecutors from the Gaobeidian People's Court in Hebei, who said they will be pushing for a 25-year jail term for Sun.

His eldest son and Dawu Group chairman Sun Meng has been advised to plead guilty in return for a 16-year sentence, or face a 20-year jail term.

Sun's brother Sun Zhihua was advised to plead guilty in return for an 11-year sentence, or face a 14-year jail term, lawyers told RFA.

"The plan is for the pretrial meeting to go on for five days, with every defendant involved," a member of the defense team who asked to remain anonymous said.

"The judiciary and the local government are very keen to expedite this case."

Threats of long prison terms

Dawu Group lawyer Zheng Chengyue said Sun's family members have been dragged in by the authorities in a bid to obtain a guilty plea from him.

"They will get lighter jail terms if they confess and plead guilty, and heavier sentences if they don't; that's the deal," Zheng said.

"Officials want to get the case to trial as soon as possible ... although they have yet to issue a trial date," he said. "Sun's two sons, their wives, and two younger brothers are all in detention."

A defense team attorney surnamed Chen said the crackdown on Sun's business empire had been ordered by a high-ranking provincial leader in Hebei, under the patronage of a high-ranking official in Beijing, meaning that heavier sentences are far more likely.

"During the investigation phase of this case, the third-level public prosecutors at provincial level in Hebei were already intervening," Chen said.

"We are not entirely sure if this was ordered in Beijing, but the speed with which posts about the case have been deleted and social media accounts shut down suggest some involvement from Beijing," he said.

Calls to the Gaobeidian People's Court and to the Hebei Provincial People's High Court rang unanswered during office hours on May 17.

Several Dawu Group employees contacted by RFA on the same day declined to comment, indicating strong official pressure not to talk to the media.

Outspoken political journalist Gao Yu, who is acquainted with Sun, said the case seemed to be related to a physical altercation, but that the authorities have ensured that the charges also settle some older accounts with Sun.

"This is mostly about a land dispute between the Dawu Group and this state-owned farm," Gao said. "This should be a regular police matter, but it looks as if the authorities are bringing up some issues from the past that they had previously let slide."

An FAQ released in April by Sun's legal team said his detention had come after a land dispute with Xushui State Farm in Hebei's Langwuzhuang village, during which some buildings belonging to the Dawu Group had been demolished.

Most of the charges against Sun and his fellow executives are linked to the clashes that ensued.

Pressure to sell

The CCP has stepped up pressure in recent months on Jack Ma's Alibaba group to sell off its media assets including the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post (SCMP) newspaper, according to media reports in March 2021.

Officials have been in talks with the company since last year, amid an ongoing clampdown on Alibaba founder Jack Ma's power and influence that saw Beijing pull the plug on a planned U.S.$35 billion initial public offering (IPO) of shares in his financial affiliate Ant Group.

Central government investigators set up camp in Alibaba headquarters in November 2020, according to industry sources, and its operations are under review by multiple state agencies.

The Wall Street Journal has also reported that the government is asking Alibaba to offload a number of media assets, including online news sites, newspapers, television production companies, social media, and advertising businesses.

While Ma was initially lionized by state media as a loyal entrepreneur and billionaire, his huge wealth and power are increasingly being seen as a threat to CCP rule, analysts say.

His criticism of financial regulation in China and Alibaba's lightning-fast censorship of content referencing a scandal surrounding one of the company's executives are seen by many in Beijing as a threat to CCP authority.

CCP general secretary Xi Jinping unveiled plans in October 2020 to move China to a state-controlled, "circular" economy based on domestic demand, and away from the export-based model that has fueled rapid growth since 1979, when late supreme leader Deng Xiaoping ushered in four decades of market-based economic policy.

Analysts have said there is a widespread expectation that Xi will move to change the current system of property ownership.

Reported by Xiaoshan Huang, Chingman and Jia Ao for RFA's Mandarin and Cantonese Services. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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Top 50 Chinese global brands 2021, led by Alibaba and ByteDance

The Top 50 Chinese Global Brand Builders report reaches a milestone this year. 2021 is the fifth year Google and Kantar have analyzed Chinese global brands. The Top 50 continued rise year-over-year in consumer awareness in the developed markets they surveyed. In 2021, the Top 50 Chinese Global Brand Builders ranking by Kantar expands from […]

Top 50 Chinese global brands 2021, led by Alibaba and ByteDance

The Top 50 Chinese Global Brand Builders report reaches a milestone this year. 2021 is the fifth year Google and Kantar have analyzed Chinese global brands. The Top 50 continued rise year-over-year in consumer awareness in the developed markets they surveyed.

In 2021, the Top 50 Chinese Global Brand Builders ranking by Kantar expands from seven developed markets (US, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Australia, Japan) to a broader coverage that includes India, Indonesia, Brazil, and Mexico.

Alibaba Group, ByteDance, Huawei, Xiaomi, Lenovo, Oppo, Hisense, Haier, One Plus, Vivo, Shein, and Tencent lead the Top 50 list.

CIW Subscribers can download the 67-page report here.

Most Valuable Chinese Brands

14 of the 24 categories grew in value, with Technology contributing a quarter of the ranking’s total value and Retail around a fifth. Entertainment saw the highest growth for the second year running, rising 221% in value as people spent more time online in lockdown, while Education grew by 92% as the increasing popularity of online learning was further stimulated by COVID-19.

Top Chinese Brands – Technology

Each of the Top 10 Risers (the brands which increased most in value year-on-year) grew by over 50%, with education provider Xueersi (no.38, +120% $4.6 billion) and alcohol brand Wu Liang Ye (no.26, +116%, $8.0 billion) more than doubling in value.

Three are education brands, with Xueersi joined by New Oriental (no.36; +78%, $4.9 billion) and VIPKID (no.84; +67%, $1.3 billion).

Third highest riser Lufax (no.19; +80%, $12.4 billion), a newcomer to the ranking in 2019 which was formed by financial services giant Ping An, grew +80% after successfully broadening its consumer finance operation.

Growth within the China Top 100 has been driven by the ability of the most valuable brands to align with the major trends shaping the Chinese market, including the desire for self-improvement and wellness, rapid urbanization, premiumization, and heightened national pride.

Many trends were accelerated by COVID-19 as consumers reconsidered their priorities, with the accumulation of wealth declining in importance, and an increased focus on health, the environment, and the welfare of the nation.

There are 16 newcomers this year, led by short-form video brand Douyin (TikTok’s Chinese brand, no.14; $16.9 billion) and e-commerce group buying platform Pinduoduo (no.23; $9.5 billion).

Among the new entries are five unicorns (start-up companies valued at over $1 billion): Douyin and video sharing app Kuaishou (no.25; $8.6 billion), real estate agent Ziroom (no.71; $2.1 billion), and tech brands Toutiao (no.67; $2.3 billion) and Zhihu (no.91; $1.0 billion).

Athleisure brand Li-Ning (no.99; $848 million) re-entered the ranking for the first time since 2013, after capitalizing on the rise in patriotism with a range that celebrated Chinese culture and design.

Chinese brands continue to pursue global growth and rapidly expand their international presence and stature. Only one was listed in the 2006 ranking of the most valuable global brands; the 2020 ranking includes 17.

CIW Subscribers can download the 163-page report here. Subscribe here.

Top 100

Value growth for the brands that score highly on the BrandZ Innovation Index is almost nine times greater than those that score low. Haier (no.12; $18.7 billion) has successfully transformed into a leading Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem brand, the advantages of which include the delivery of a seamless experience, an ecosystem that is boundless, and the ability to offer auto-sensing payments.

Owing to continuous collaborative innovation among Haier, its users and its partners, the brand achieves constant improvement and evolution.

Brand growth potential expands in lower tiers. The rapid development of smaller cities has created new opportunities. Kuaishou has become a lower-tier version of Douyin, while online classified ad marketplace 58.com (no.75; $1.7 billion) launched 58 Town to serve lower-tier communities.

Pinduoduo, which began by serving lower tier consumers, has achieved national prominence as a rival to Alibaba and JD.

China has leapfrogged in the customer experience. Experience is a critical differentiator, now consumers can get what they want whenever they want it. The brands that score highest on ‘positive experience’ grew the brand value over three times faster year-on-year.

Examples include JD, which opened its largest physical store, JD E-Space, an experiential centre where consumers can test and purchase products. Ecosystems engage users with content to drive sales.

Content commerce is an example of the trend towards experiences that increase convenience by being multifunctional or overlapping.

Brands are integrating social media and e-commerce in a way that simplifies people’s lives – creating appealing content that can be seamlessly monetised. For instance, short-video sharing apps like Douyin often provide opportunities to purchase items for rapid delivery.

How content help businesses in branding and driving sales in China

BrandZ Top global brands 2020: 17 Chinese brands; two in top 10

BrandZ just released their Most Valuable Brands list for 2020. The BrandZ™ Global Top 100 now includes 17 Chinese brands, led by Alibaba and Tencent.

Two Chinese brands, TikTok, the short video app owned by ByteDance, and Bank of China were among five newcomers that joined BrandZ’s Top 100. Bank of China returned after a short absence. A year ago, four of the newcomer brands were Chinese.

Moutai, the traditional Chinese baijiu alcohol brand, increased 58% to lead the Global Top 100 in percentage value increase. Moutai widened its distribution, range, packaging, and targeting strategies while retaining its premium brand positioning.

Retail leads growth with 21 percent rise. With strong performances by Costco, Amazon, Walmart, JD.com, Target, Costco, and Alibaba, the BrandZ™ Retail Top 20 increased 21% in value following a 25 percent rise a year ago—with physical stores closed during the pandemic.

Check out top retail mobile platforms in China here.

Having digitally transformed over the past decade, these retailers were positioned for the online purchasing and flexible delivery options required by pandemic shopping habits.

Top Chinese Brands 2020

The 17 Chinese brands that made it to the Global Top 100 Brands List are:

  • Alibaba: 6th
  • Tencent: 7th
  • Moutai: 18th
  • ICBC (Bank): 31st
  • China Mobile: 36th
  • Ping An (Insurance): 38th
  • Huawei: 45th
  • JD: 52nd
  • Meituan: 54th
  • CCB (Bank): 58th
  • Didi: 64th
  • Haier (IoT): 68th
  • Agricultural Bank of China: 69th
  • TikTok: 79th
  • Xiaomi:81st
  • Baidu: 91st
  • Bank of China: 97th

BCG: The most innovative Chinese companies in 2020

BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands

Watch the just launched BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands countdown.

With a 32 percent increase in value, Amazon remained the No 1 most valuable brand. Although consumer reliance on home delivery during the pandemic stretched Amazon’s logistics capabilities, it also affirmed Amazon’s strength.

Corporate cultural change, open systems, and the growth of its cloud business helped generate a 30 percent increase in value for Microsoft that pushed the brand up one slot in the ranking to No. 3, just after Apple, swapping places with Google, which was impacted by declining ad revenue related to Covid-19.

Top 100 Brands

Source : China Internet Watch More   

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