Beijing goes all out to quash Guo Wengui event in Washington

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A summary of the top news in Chinese politics and current affairs for October 4, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.

Combination of satellite photos shows Chinese-controlled North Island, part of the Paracel Islands group in the South China Sea, on February 15, 2017 (top) and on March 6, 2017. Planet Labs/Handout via REUTERS

“The planning just got away from us and we feel bad…we don’t give a rat’s ass what Beijing thinks.”

That was how David Tell, spokesman for a conservative think tank called The Hudson Institute, explained to the Washington Free Beacon why his organization had postponed an event featuring Guo Wengui 郭文贵, who was scheduled to speak on October 4.

At first, the Institute made no explanation for the apparent cancellation of the event with Guo, an exiled tycoon who has been tweeting corruption allegations about senior Chinese officials, but the Institute did acknowledge that it had received intense pressure from Beijing to call off the event. Hudson reportedly received phone calls from the Chinese embassy in Washington, threatening emails, and “a major denial of service cyber attack traced to Shanghai.”

Guo reacted in a statement:

“I am shocked at Hudson’s cancellation, but at the same time I am also pleased the issue has proven to the American people and people of the world my repeated warning of the virulence and harmfulness of the Chinese kleptocrats’ long reach… The significance and value of this incident has surpassed my talk at Hudson.”

The intense pressure from Beijing to quash this politically sensitive event is not surprising, given the proximity of the 19th Party Congress, but it is unclear how much Hudson was influenced by Beijing.

The incident comes as Guo is seeking political asylum from the U.S. government, and as China’s minister of public security, Guo Shengkun 郭声琨, is visiting Washington to discuss issues, including fugitive repatriation, with top-level officials at the State Department and Justice Department.

China-watcher Bill Bishop noted on Twitter that the event with Guo will now be held on Thursday, October 5, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.