Translation: “The Specter of Guo Wenguiphobia”
CDT cannot verify any information presented by Guo Wengui.
Guo Wengui, an exiled billionaire with known ties to China’s intelligence apparatus, has since early this year been levying corruption allegations at those on the top of China’s Party power structure. Beijing has responded by waging a publicity war against Guo, successfully lobbying for Interpol to release “red notice” warrants for his arrest, and issuing repeated censorship directives forbidding commentary on Guo. Amid the media war with Beijing, Guo has issued concrete demands for change, and has become an unlikely hero to many democracy-minded Chinese both in– and outside of the Great Firewall. As Guo continues to allege the depth of Party corruption and name the characters that according to him are “plundering of the nation,” he has been steadily gaining followers on YouTube and Twitter. Beijing appears to likewise be continuing their efforts to discredit him: Anonymous Twitter accounts (one of them recently suspended, but available via Google’s cache) have since last month been releasing unfavorable surveillance materials on Guo, who is also known by the English name Miles Kwok.
In an essay at Radio France Internationale’s Chinese service, An Delie writes about the chilling effect that Guo has created with his allegations over the past eight months as the CCP has lent conceivability to his claims with their harsh reactions:
There is a Specter Haunting China: Guo Wenguiphobia
by An Delie (安德烈)
“Wang-Seven-Three” and “73,”—since May or June this year, these have become sensitive words online. Two days ago, a farmer in Henan was placed in administrative detention for using the word “Meng.” Earlier, a person wearing a t-shirt with the phrase “all of this is only the beginning” was also detained. Many Chinese citizens are well aware of these occurrences. Wang-Seven-Three and 73 allude to Central Commission for Discipline Inspection Secretary Wang Qishan; Meng refers to Politics and Law Committee Secretary Meng Jianzhu. The phrase written on the shirt was a phrase that Guo Wengui says practically every day.
This was all caused by Guo Wengui. If Guo weren’t in New York releasing his exposés, there would be no “guilt by association.” If Guo Wengui didn’t allege that the family of a man he calls a “plunderer of the nation,” Wang Qishan, had moved astronomical amounts of money out of the country through HNA and “white gloves,” and if he didn’t allege that Zhou Xiaoping’s wife Wang Fang was Meng Jianzhu’s lover, then that Henan farmer Chen Shouli wouldn’t have been detained. Go online, check what people are saying, and you’ll see just how innumerable are the people who’ve heard about Guo Wengui’s “All’s Well” broadcasts and his video interviews. Those who support Guo Wengui call out “put a pot on your head” [顶锅, a homophone for “support Guo”]. Those who desperately want to catch him want to “smash that pot” [砸锅, literally meaning “smash the pot”, but the term means “to fail”].
The Interpol General Assembly was in Beijing over the last two days. Analysis by the BBC said that Guo Wengui might be the focal point of the assembly. Deutsche Welle recently published an article titled “Stability Maintenance Efforts Exceptionally Harsh in Lead Up to the 19th National Congress–Likely Due to Guo Wengui.” The article points out that before important meetings, China always panics and treats everyone as an enemy. This year’s 19th National Party Congress is even worse than usual.
Many were most surprised by China’s recent decision to block the instant messaging app WhatsApp. The authorities’ fear of the app isn’t without warrant—after restricting WeChat, Weibo and Baidu message boards, many started sharing information, videos, and related discussion about Guo Wengui there.
Whether or not you believe what he says, there is more and more discussion about his revelations. Looking at social media, every time Guo Wengui has revealed the secrets of a corrupt official, there’s been a reaction on the streets of Beijing. In restaurants, bars, in the streets and alleyways, people see each other and, smiling, ask, “What did he say now?” It’s become a tacit greeting.
Carrying out a ban on the spread of information isn’t easy. The chilling effect produced by Guo Wengui is diffusing outward. Chen Shouli, the Henan resident mentioned above, was detained for using the word “Meng” in a WeChat group. An official Administrative Penalty Decision from the Mengke Branch police in Puyang City, Henan, was published on Twitter. It stated that on September 15, Chen Shouli said the following in a WeChat group: “Haha, he’s not revealing Wang Fang was with Meng, right? If it’s true, boy, Zhou Xiaoping’s hat couldn’t be any greener!” The decision said this was libel against a Chinese leader and others’ opinions. It was decided he would be put in administrative detention for five days for “provoking trouble.” Clearly, this “Meng” referred to Chinese Communist Party Politics and Law Committee Secretary Meng Jianzhu. According to Guo Wengui’s revelations, Zhou Xiaoping’s wife Wang Fang was one of the lovers of Meng Jianzhu; and Zhou Xiaoping and Wang Fang’s marriage this March was arranged by Meng Jianzhu.
Guo Wengui’s allegations have given rise to a chilling effect. On the 27th, the Beijing News reported Beijing Municipal Party Secretary and trusted Xi Jinping aide Cai Qi stressed that security would be watertight during the 19th Party Congress. He was speaking mainly about combatting any and all types of political rumors and harmful information. He said, “We must build our line of defense through social control, eliminate all unstable elements, build a strong line of security online, and resolutely crack down on all types of political rumors and harmful information. To ensure absolute security, we must build a strong ‘moat,’ further deepen regional defense, joint control, joint governance, fight together in complete cooperation.” Listening to Cai Qi, Guo Wengui’s “contributions” are apparent. Cai Qi’s words come from a place of fear. Guo Wengui’s shadow can be seen everywhere. This display doesn’t quite match up with what China’s Chairman Xi Jinping had to say at the Interpol General Assembly–that China is one of the most secure countries in the world.
Now, not only is discussion of the subjects of Guo Wengui’s revelations banned, but also the names and nicknames of any other related people. In order to avoid trouble, internet users are writing Wang Qishan as “73,” and referring to Guan Jun [贯君], who Guo claims is the billionaire illegitimate child of Wang Qishan, as “Guan Jun” [冠军].
Before each time Guo Wengui goes live, he always says, “Friends, have you worked out?” This phrase has now become seen as deeply hostile. Write or say this phrase online, and you’ll be suspected of sharing Guo Wengui’s revelations.
The authenticity of Guo Wengui’s claims has yet to be proven. Some ask, after accusing three top officials in charge of corruption by name with claims they control vast amounts of wealth, shouldn’t the Chinese government initiate a special investigation in order to give an explanation to the public? With regards to the many people who refuse to believe Guo Wengui’s revelations, current affairs commentator Liang Jing believes that, “The most important reason, I’m afraid, is that the truth Guo Wengui uncovered is too subversive to the current order and interest groups. Accept Guo Wengui’s revelations, and that would mean disrupting, or even destroying, the whole frame of reference that individuals rely on to balance their own interests against moral choices. They’re caught in a kind of distressed and fearful uncertainty.”
Bao Tong, aide of former Communist Party Secretary Zhao Ziyang, said, “My wish is that this country is one that serves the people. My wish is that it is not for traitorous pirates, not for HNA, not for Blue Gold and Yellow [which Guo has described as a decades-old official plan to control people outside of the system through electronic surveillance and hacking (blue), bribery (gold), or sex (yellow)], not for organ harvesting, not for murder on demand. Therefore, I sincerely wish that Guo Wengui was lying. The recording of ‘state representatives’ threatening and baiting Guo Wengui completely shattered my dreams because it confirmed the authenticity, value, and destructiveness of Mr. Guo’s information with the authority of the state, clear as black and white.
More and more people hope that authorities in Beijing will investigate the top officials who have been implicated on corruption charges, in order to, one, find out the truth, and two, naturally lessen the rumors. The authorities do not need to exercise the power of the state and jam up the internet. Even more unnecessary is to treat every bush as an enemy soldier as they reinforce an environment of fear and paranoia. [Chinese]
Translation by Little Bluegill.