The Chinese Foreign Ministry said the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) issued a Red Notice Wednesday for the arrest of billionaire Guo Wengui, an outspoken critic of corruption within the Communist Party, but gave no details of his alleged crimes.
“What we understand is that Interpol has already issued a Red Notice for criminal suspect Guo Wengui,” foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters.
Guo, also known as Miles Kwok, is a real estate magnate who has been living outside China for almost three years.
China considered Guo a criminal and sought his return, but there is no public record of him being charged with a crime, former CIA senior China analyst Christopher Johnson said in an interview with The New York Times.
Guo left China in June 2014 during a corruption investigation linked to the jailing of his political backer, who was a top security official. Guo said his assets in China were seized, and his family members and former employees were detained.
Chinese government spokesperson Lu’s comments came as VOA’s Mandarin service aired a live interview with Guo, who had previously said he would provide details about corruption involving Chinese leaders.
“What I am going to show you are conversations I had with Mr. Fu Zhenhua,” Guo told VOA Mandarin Wednesday, “and what did he instruct me to do as the head of the national anti-corruption group.”
Fu Zhenhua is a top official of the Ministry of Public Security.
“He tried to threaten me, to extort $50 million from me and already got $1.5 million U.S. dollars from me,” Guo said. “As long as I give him $50 million, he would guarantee the safety of my family members, they would release my employees, my family members, my brothers, my wife and my daughter. And also [he] would guarantee the safety of my assets. In addition, I would need to help him access some information.”
Chinese officials had expressed concerns to VOA about the interview beforehand, but declined repeated offers to rebut his claims during or after the segment aired. In the past, Guo has made allegations of secret businesses controlled by senior Chinese leaders or their families. He outlined more details in Wednesday’s interview, which have not yet been substantiated.
“He [Fu Zhenhua] instructed me to look for information on Wang Qishan,” Guo said. “He [Fu Zhenhua] said he was doing this on behalf of President Xi Jinping.”
Wang Qishan, known as China’s anti-corruption tsar, is a senior leader of the Communist Party of China and the secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.
“He [Fu Zhenhua] asked me to look for [information on] Secretary Wang Qishan and his relationship with Hainan Airlines. Secretary Wang Qishan’s nephew has stocks in Hainan Airlines,” Guo told VOA.
Hainan Airlines is one of the largest airlines operating in China.
“The wealth of Hainan Airlines after mergers and acquisitions, as we see in the past two or three years, involves almost a trillion” RMB, Guo said.
VOA cannot verify those accusations made by Guo.
Guo, who spoke live to VOA for an hour, suggested that the Interpol notice for his arrest was politically motivated and aimed at preventing the interview.
In a statement responding to VOA’s Mandarin service, Interpol said, “A Red Notice is a request to provisionally arrest an individual, pending extradition issued by the General Secretariat upon the request of a member country based on a valid national arrest warrant. It is not an international arrest warrant.”
Interpol added, “The individuals concerned are wanted by national jurisdictions (or International Criminal Tribunals, where appropriate) and Interpol’s role is to assist national police forces in identifying or locating those individuals with a view to their arrest and extradition.”
In the TV interview, Guo discredited Interpol and said he has not used a Chinese passport for years.
“I am a resident in the United States, I have passports from three Middle East countries, and I hold passports from numerous European countries. I have about 11 passports. I have not used a Chinese passport, nor my Chinese nationality in nearly 28 years,” Guo said.
On Twitter, he dismissed the allegations from China, calling the Red Notice “suicidal behavior coming from truly corrupt officials who fear I will expose their crimes.”
Guo revealed that he, not unlike other businessmen originating from China, maintained a relationship with the State Security Bureau, an organ responsible for espionage and the monitoring of Chinese citizens overseas.
He said the Security Bureau would lend support to his business undertakings while tasking him with gathering information and reaching out to dissidents abroad as well as the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
Guo said he has met the Dalai Lama “several times” and has in his possession a copy of a letter the Dalai Lama had written to President Xi and Meng Jianzhu, who presides over the party’s powerful Political and Legal Affairs Committee.
‘Conduit’ for correspondence
A U.S. representative of the Dalai Lama told VOA, “We also took note of what Mr. Guo said during the interview this morning. With regards to his meetings with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, Mr. Guo himself made public through his Twitter account sometime ago of photographs of himself with His Holiness. Whether he was the conduit for His Holiness’ correspondence with President Xi and Meng Jianzhu, I have no specific information nor the dates.”
Before the interview, VOA announced on its Chinese-language website that Guo would reveal “nuclear-grade” information in the planned three-hour interview, which was to be broadcast live during one of its regular TV programs and continued on social media.
Chinese officials had contacted VOA journalists expressing concern over the interview and urged it to be canceled.
VOA management decided to proceed with the live interview, broadcasting one hour live and then taping the rest and publishing additional reporting on the interview afterward, VOA spokeswoman Bridget Serchak said.
“We had multiple plans to conduct additional interviews with the subject for social media and late yesterday [Tuesday] made the editorial decision to record this material, edit and post it in the coming days,” Serchak said.
“In a miscommunication, the stream was allowed to continue beyond the first hour. When this was noticed, the feed was terminated. We will release content from these interviews and will continue to report on corruption issues,” she said.