Jiang Qisheng is finally paying attention to Guo Wengui. For a while the dissident and co-author of Charter 08 tuned out Guo’s torrent of claims about anti-corruption czar Wang Qishan and other top Party officials, but a turning point came which revealed to Jiang the power Guo wields over the Chinese political establishment. Dressed in a traditional high-collared robe, Guo, a politically connected billionaire, casts himself as a modern-day May Fourth revolutionary, fighting for China with “weaponized leaks” flung onto Youtube and Twitter from his penthouse in New York.
Jiang offers his analysis of Guo in a Radio Free Asia opinion piece, translated in its entirety here.
How I See Guo Wengui’s Leaks
A few months ago, I hadn’t heard of Guo Wengui. Before Pan Shiyi sued him, I didn’t think much of his revelations, despite the Voice of America debacle. The reason for my ignorance and lack of acuity: all along, I have abhorred Xi Jinping and Wang Qishan’s anti-corruption campaign. While I can’t oppose it, I firmly believe that this so-called iron-fisted campaign, which pointedly rejects sunshine laws, is nothing but a truth-hating interrogation through torture and a power struggle with no benefit to justice; while a few tigers and flies are removed, incurable, systemic corruption will continue to spread like a cancer.
Out of disdain, I refused to pay attention. I hadn’t heard of Ma Jian, Li You, Xiao Jianhua, or Wu Xiaohui until this year. Out of disdain, I disregarded both the winners and the losers in the power struggle; I couldn’t have imagined that one of the losers not only would escape the clutches of the winners, but would also use self media in a fearsome attack on the winners’ most vulnerable points.
I started to pay attention to Guo Wengui, and to inquire into his political revelations, after Pan Shiyi responded to the “vulgar, deceptive nonsense” that were Guo’s accusations against him. Exercising my sacred right to information by scaling the Digital Berlin Wall, I watched Guo’s three interviews on Mingjing and a number of Guo’s “all’s well” videos. I also came to know the Twitter storm surrounding Guo. Behind the Wall, I noted King Xi’s red notice against Guo, as well as the “revolutionary mass criticism” launched by such super volunteer fifty centers as Hu Xijin, Wu Fatian, and Lin Yifu. I think that now I ought to say something about Guo.
Of course, as a dissident, I have clear differences of opinion with Guo regarding basic values and politics. I don’t want to avoid these differences, but they aren’t relevant here. What I want to talk about here are four positive evaluations of Guo:
1. Guo’s claims are falsifiable.
At this point I cannot confirm how trustworthy Guo is. But I can confirm that he does not equivocate or scrimp on detail when he makes his disclosures. He has names. He has ID card numbers and passport numbers. He has photos and charts. He has coordinates and times. He has numbers. This information is easy to verify and differentiate, and thus highly falsifiable. In other words, by checking his claims, one may conclude whether Guo is a fabulating rumormonger or a reliable informant. He seems unafraid of such scrutiny, and he is not finished with Wang Qishan. I believe the power of Guo’s revelations derives more from their falsifiability than from Guo’s willingness to point a finger at Wang.
The words of Laozi, “humanity’s greatest philosopher” according to Li Ming, stand in stark contrast to Guo’s: “The Dao produced One; One produced Two; Two produced Three.” In this statement “one,” “two,” and “three” are not numbers. Otherwise, Laozi would have committed the most basic of linguistic errors. They are pronouns, just like the “one” in the saying “two sides to one matter” and the “two” in “two become one.” We all have different interpretations of “two sides to one matter” and “two become one,” but we agree on what “one” and “two” represent.
But what does Laozi mean by “one,” “two,” and “three”? He gives no definition or explanation, leaving space for limitless imagination. Therefore, Laozi’s statement is not falsifiable. Because Laozi did not elaborate, later generations have endlessly speculated on his meaning; but to date, no conclusion has been drawn, and I’m afraid none ever will.
2. Guo’s claims are of great benefit to the common understanding of China’s anti-corruption campaign.
According to the winners in the current power struggle, China’s corruption is serious, but not systemic; clarity and honesty are the weapons of the anti-corruption campaign. There are plenty of tigers and flies, but the corruption busters who act “in the name of the people” are totally righteous, honest beyond compare, and highly upstanding. Guo Wengui, a loser in the power struggle, proffers another truth: Wang Qishan, the canny anti-corruption trader, is none other than the biggest tiger of them all; the |”|forest rangers|”| under Wang’s command are themselves tigers and flies; China is fighting graft with graft. China is fighting corruption with corruption. It is even fighting graft and corruption with extortion. These two truths cannot both be right.
2017 seems to be an unusual year. Is there a single businessman who has no grievances? Is there one who doesn’t have dirt they could share with the world? But none of them have dared to speak up, or none has been able to speak up. Suddenly, a rare member of their group comes forward–and because of him, all the watermelon-eating spectators of the world, no, all the people of the world, can enjoy this game of information freedom. They say that if you only hear one side you will be ignorant, but if you hear both sides you will be enlightened. I believe that the enlightened have no trouble discerning the real truth of China’s anti-corruption campaign.
3. Guo’s greatest quality is his esteem for “human dignity.”
As a billionaire who carries the “original sin,” Guo Wengui is short on respect for China’s businesspeople, and long on anguish over them. In his third Mingjing interview, broadcast live on June 16, Guo repeatedly said the country’s entrepreneurs live like “pigs and dogs” and are no better than “nightclub call girls”; and that when they face blackmail and other pressure from local officials, “even kneeling is not enough–they have to grovel.” At the end, he compared China and the U.S., not by per capita GDP, but by degree of human dignity. “If the level of respect in the U.S. is 100,” he fumed, “then in China’s it’s zero!” Last month, in an essay titled “Live More Like a Human Being,” I wrote, “What is the foremost basis of comparison between two countries? It is which country treats its citizens more like human beings.” I went on, “If one does not live as a human being, then what dignity is there to speak of?” It seems that Guo Wengui and I resonate with each other on this point.
Just recently, the world turned its eyes to Otto Warmbier, the 22-year-old American college student who was beaten senseless in North Korea, and who passed away just six days after returning home. This further proves that the regime of the Kim Fatty III does not respect basic human dignity. If we ranked countries by respect for humanity, the North Korean regime would be one of the first from the bottom. What legitimacy is there to speak of in such a regime?
4. Henceforth, Guo’s role is a relatively honest one.
Besides saving his skin, saving his fortune, and getting revenge, Guo Wengui has decided to spend the second half of his life doing something meaningful with his wits, wealth, resolve, and ability–to fight for the security and dignity of the Chinese people. This is a proper and honest role. I noticed that he has not cast himself as a “once-in-a-century hero,” nor has he promoted himself as a “general” leading China’s political transformation. He harbors no illusions of enormous change in China in 2017. I have also noticed that Guo admits that “my selfishness and misjudgment have hurt many people,” and has offered a public apology.
Guo appeared out of nowhere, throwing a new, unpredictable variable into China’s political ecology in 2017. Even so, China will not become a constitutional democracy in a day, or a year. There are people who say, with good reason, that China’s one-party dictatorship can last no longer than December 31 , 2017. Such predictions are actually quite falsifiable, but for me, hard to believe.
June 25, 2017, from my home in Beijing [Chinese]
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