Born in 1961 in Jilin Province, Wang Gongquan is a prominent figure in China's venture capital industry and active supporter of the civil society movement in China. He was president and director-general of Vantone International and a senior co-partner of Vantone Industry Group between 1994 an 1998. He was a general partner with IDG Technology Venture Investment between 1999 and 2005, and founded CDH Venture in 2005. He was detained by Beijing police on charges of "gathering a crowd to disturb public order" on Sept. 13, 2013 and released on bail in January 2014.
'I am afraid no more', says billionaire investor Wang Gongquan, 2 months before his detention
In an interview with the South China Morning Post in July, Wang Gongquan, the Chinese venture capitalist and political activist taken in by Beijing police on Friday, talked about his own activism, his friend and fellow activist Xu Zhiyong, as well as his fears for political repercussion. He said that he had feared for his own possible arrest, but the fear dissipated over time.
Below is an excerpt of the interview.
SCMP: You have been actively involved in the civil society movement. Do you have fears over politics?
Wang: First, I had fears, but not that much. In today’s China, people are getting arrested every day. It’s impractical for one to claim that he has no fears. But I may not be as scared as many others, because I have been involved in such matters for years, meetings and discussions. After a while I am not so afraid any more.
After doing it for a while, I realise I have broken no laws. I have no ill intent. Then what is there to fear? So gradually, I am no longer afraid.
They accused Zhiyong [Xu Zhiyong, Wang’s friend and fellow civil society activist] of disturbing public order. But he had been under house arrest for months, what could he have possibly disturbed? If he had done it before, how come nobody knew about it then? How come there were no consequences? I think it was just an excuse. I think Zhiyong is a rather rational and mild person. When we discuss things, we are always responsible towards the society. For example, if there were mass incidents, how could violent conflicts be avoided, how to save our society from major unrest? We talk a lot about that.
Therefore, I don’t feel I have anything to fear for my involvement. I may say this is a little to much, I may protest, or strongly protest. But it’s normal. I feel something is wrong, so I protest.
Wang: I am against street actions. I have never encouraged street actions.
SCMP: Why is that?
Wang: Because the Communist Party doesn’t allow it. It's such a simple reason!
SCMP: Then what’s the meaning of your activism?
Wang: When the government hasn’t been able to well understand this, and can’t treat such matters with ease, you go into the street and they easily get nervous. And when they get nervous they resort to excessive defence. And that brings unnecessary trouble and sacrifice. That’s why I am against it. When I hear people talk about such things, I ask them not to do it. I don’t know if this puts me on the softer side among the circle of civil society activists.
For a long time I have been harshly criticising some problems in the government, including in the ruling party. Some have called my comments radical. I don’t feel radical at all. I think some entrepreneurs fear too much.
People wonder if I am constantly in danger, if I am being followed, wiretapped, etc. I don’t feel I am in any danger. I never feel I am being followed. I don’t believe relevant departments are so professional either. I say whatever I want when I talk on the phone, and I don’t care if I am being wiretapped. If they are wiretapping me, I would feel a little sad because it’s a waste of taxpayers' money.
No government agency has taken me to tea yet.