Billionaire, Guo Wengui, who has been accused of multiple crimes by China, is reportedly seeking political asylum in the US.
Guo Wengui is a Chinese billionaire businessman who is currently on a self imposed exile in New York, America. He is a real estate magnate who at the peak of his career was the 73rd richest person in China. According to reports, he may have left China permanently in 2015. He has been shuttling between US and Europe since that period.
The Chinese President Xi Jinping has made tackling corruption one of his main governing agendas. In 2016, the government announced that in the span of three years, one million officials had been punished for corrupt practices. Those caught in the past range from low ranking officials to top brass.
Many of the officials that Wengui was supposed to have had close ties with have been accused in the corruption crackdown.
In the recent months, Wengui has become increasingly vocal about corruption within the Chinese regime. He has not provided any evidence but claims that top Chinese officials are guilty of corruption. He has specifically targeted Wang Qishan, the anti-corruption tsar in China. Qishan is often considered the second most powerful man in China after the Chinese President.
In April 2017, China issued a global "red notice" through the global police co-operation agency Interpol for Wengui’s arrest. Chinese authorities claim that Wengui has been investigated for close to 19 crimes. He has been accused of crimes as severe as kidnapping, money laundering and fraud. Reports have emerged that he is being investigated on rape charges as well.
Wengui has denied all charges and has said that it is politically motivated. In a video that was released on Twitter, he said, “My homeland wants to hurt me, wants to destroy me and my family.”
According to the Washington-based lawyer representing Wengui, he is seeking political asylum in the US. Thomas Ragland has noted that Wengui is being targeted because he is perceived as a political threat to the current Chinese regime. He revealed that Wengui has sought political asylum because “he fears that the Chinese regime would seek retribution for the things he's been saying and the exposure he's been responsible.”
Regarding the asylum process, Ragland noted, “The average time to process the application from filing to interview is two to three years. This case is complicated and it could take even longer than that. Asylum offers a level of protection that is different from having a visa status. Visas can be cancelled or revoked.”
Our assessment is that if the US grants political asylum to Wengui, then it will cause tensions in the US-China relationship. Relations between US and China have been tense lately due to North Korea’s nuclear tests as well as disagreements on bilateral trade.