From Billionaire to Chinese Prisoner: The Shattered ‘Paradise’ of Agricultural Mogul Sun Dawu

Founder of Dawu Group set out to prove the potential of China’s farmers–and succeeded, but he could not save his company from the Communist Party

Chinese pig farmer Sun Dawu posing at a feed warehouse in Hebei, outside Beijing, on Sept. 24, 2019. (Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images)
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On July 28, in the closing statements at his trial, 67-year-old Sun Dawu made an impassioned plea for leniency from the Chinese court officials who that day sentenced him to 18 years in prison. The renowned agricultural entrepreneur, along with family members and colleagues, had spent months in China’s harrowing “residential surveillance” detention system after being arrested last November. Their case went to trial just days after charges were brought
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