The turbulent billionaire-turned-dissident Guo Wengui 郭文贵 wants to stay in the U.S., where the New York Times reports (paywall) that he has officially applied for political asylum. If you need a refresher on Guo’s backstory and the details of his accusations against the Chinese government, read this article on SupChina and listen to this Sinica Podcast with Times reporters Mike Forsythe and Alex Stevenson.
What does the asylum application mean?
- It confirms speculation based on a leaked audiotape in late August that Guo had become increasingly worried about the possibility that he could be traded away as a bargaining chip amid tense U.S.-China negotiations.
- As the application is still pending — and as the Times explains, Guo is “arguably China’s most-wanted man” — that could still happen.
- It indicates that Guo would prefer to stay in the U.S., where he feels safest, rather than move to another country when his visa expires, reportedly in October. This move is somewhat confusing for observers, because Guo has previously claimed he has passports from many countries, including the United Arab Emirates, and his claimed lack of Chinese citizenship may complicate the asylum application process.
- If Wang Qishan 王岐山, the anti-corruption czar who is the target of Guo’s most serious accusations, maintains his power at the 19th Party Congress this October (as seems likely), it may mean that Guo has had less influence than he desired, and sees less hope for returning to China peacefully in the future.
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