China is conducting an aggressive disinformation and influence campaign designed to block the re-election of President Trump in 2020, according to a dissident Chinese billionaire who until recently was close to senior Beijing leaders.
Guo Wengui, an exiled Chinese real estate tycoon-turned-anti-communist critic, said in an interview that details of the influence operation were disclosed recently by Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan in Beijing.
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The campaign has been underway since the 2018 mid-term election and involves enlisting pro-China elements inside the United States to end the Trump administration after four years.
"China has been protesting western powers trying to interfere in the domestic politics of China but in fact China is not only trying interfere in the domestic politics of the United States, they are interfering publicly with U.S. elections," Guo told the Washington Free Beacon.
According to Guo, who has known current Chinese President Xi Jinping for more than 10 years, the anti-Trump influence operation is being directed by Xi and Wang through the Communist Party of China (CCP) National Security Commission, a high-level body created in 2013 that since then has tightened control over all other security organs.
"For the 2020 U.S. presidential election, the security committee has given very clear instructions that it is not permissible for Trump to win the 2020 election," Guo said speaking through an interpreter.
By deploying its intelligence and influence resources in the United States, the CCP is working to exploit the harsh political divisions between Democrats and Republicans in seeking to unseat the Trump administration.
"President Trump has already caused a lot of damage to the CCP, so they have declared he will not be allowed to have another four years in power," the dissident said.
Chinese interference into American politics was first disclosed by Trump in September and a month later in a speech by Vice President Mike Pence.
Pence stated that the Beijing political interference employs a whole-of-government approach involving political, economic, military tools, and propaganda to interfere in both policy and politics.
"To put it bluntly, President Trump’s leadership is working; and China wants a different American president," Pence said in a speech Oct. 4.
China's technology theft, estimated by the White House to be as much as $600 billion annually, along with other practices and behaviors by China have emerged as a key issue in the coming presidential campaign with Democrats voicing increasing opposition to past conciliatory policies toward Beijing.
Guo said interference during the mid-term elections targeted farms states in the Midwest and sought to turn them against Trump's tougher trade policies toward Beijing.
Few public examples were seen but one example was paid Chinese propaganda supplements in newspapers such as the Des Moines Register.
Other means involve dispatching Chinese intelligence operatives to the United States for the influence operations and utilizing networks of pro-China agents—Americans and others who will do Beijing's bidding.
Those organizations taking part include the Ministry of State Security, the civilian spy agency, the People's Liberation Army intelligence units, and the United Front Work Department, a quasi-intelligence unit that conducts influence operations.
Those three agencies until recently were semi-autonomous but were placed under greater control of the Ministry of Public Security, the police ministry that in turn is the main tool of the National Security Commission.
According to Guo, the operation targeting the 2020 election is outlined in a series of directives from the National Security Commission.
Regarding Wang's disclosure, the Chinese vice president reportedly said China plans on using "four weapons" to derail Trump's re-election.
"I must tell you that you that you need to heed these four weapons because they pose a very real threat," Guo said.
The first weapon to be used against Trump is the use Wall Street financial leaders.
Wang is a close associate of former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, a former Goldman Sachs executive, who is viewed as one of the more supportive Wall Street influencers who favor unfettered American business engagement with China.
"Wall Street basically has a vested interest in helping out CCP members, the kleptocrats," Guo said. Kleptocrats is the term Guo uses to describe corrupt Chinese leaders.
The second political weapon in the anti-Trump campaign are those political leaders and lobbyists in Washington who can be enlisted to oppose Trump. "There are quite a few of these individuals who have been corrupted by the CCP for many years … and so they will be the No. 2 weapon," Guo said.
American mainstream news and social media outlets, many of which have been shown to be hostile toward Trump, are a third tool in the Chinese campaign.
"Media such as Google, Facebook, and newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, and even the national broadcast channels will be unwilling to challenge the Chinese Communist Party in coming to the defense of President Trump," Guo said.
Many news industry owners have interests in China and therefore will be reluctant to counter Chinese influence operations targeting the president, he added.
A fourth line of attack is China's effort to co-opt the overseas Chinese and Asian-Americans, groups that have grown in political power through increased wealth and subsequent political donations and voting power.
Guo noted one example of the power of the pro-China activities in the United States involved Beijing's apparent use of people who were directed to clash with pro-Taiwan supporters in New York earlier this month. The pro-Taiwan supporters had gathered during the visit there by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.
"We need to remember that for all four of these weapons, the real controlling power is the National Security Commission," Guo said.
According to Guo, Chinese leaders have assumed mafia-like power in China through Xi and Wang and an associated group of between five and 10 Chinese families.
The real goal of the security organs of power is use all means to maintain the interests of the Party elites.
"We must know that the 2020 presidential election is not really an election campaign between the Republican Party or the Democratic Party," Guo said. "In fact, it is actually a campaign between President Trump and Wang Qishan and Xi Jinping."
Guo urged Congress to create a special agency dedicated to identifying and countering foreign influence by powers like China.
In the interview, Guo vehemently denied recent news reports stemming from a lawsuit involving a business dispute that quoted a private research firm as claiming Guo is secretly an agent for the Chinese government.
Guo said he believes the false accusation is part of a major smear campaign orchestrated by the Chinese government using agents inside the United States.
"To me, such an accusation is not really a surprise," he said.
Since he began speaking out against high-level corruption in China on social media and in online broadcasts, English-language news media have called him worse names, including alleging falsely he is a thief, a rapist, and a liar.
"So this is not surprising to me. The other name calling was worse than this time just calling me a spy or agent," he said. "In the United States, I was only surpassed by President Trump for being a target of name-calling by the media."
Guo, however, said he was shocked by a Wall Street Journal article that alleged he was a spy but failed to report that he had been sued numerous times by pro-China entities and either won the suits in court, or saw them withdrawn under legal challenges.
The lawsuit that triggered the spying allegation involved a company called Strategic Vision. "They scammed $1 million from us," he said.
A countersuit brought in the case by Strategic Vision was dismissed by the court but was not reported by the Journal as the source of the allegations.
"With that counterclaim being denied by the court they still put forward a claim that I was a spy for the Chinese Communist Party," Guo said. "How ridiculous is that?"
According to a report by congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, Guo was the target of an unprecedented Chinese government campaign to discredit him and force his return to China.
Guo said the Chinese Communist Party has seized $30 billion worth of his assets and launched a covert campaign in the United States that spent $70 million to influence the U.S. government to repatriate him back to China.
In China, two of Guo's brothers were imprisoned as part of the backlash, and 18 family members were detained. Chinese authorities also arrested 270 of his employees.
"And all of that is for what? To try and establish that I'm a Chinese spy? It's so ridiculous," he said.
Guo said he has been investigated by both the CIA and FBI and said both agencies do not regard him as a Chinese agent.
Guo said the CCP disinformation is so sophisticated that the Chinese have accused him of being involved in a secret CIA role in fomenting the recent mass pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
State-run China Central Television and other state media said Guo was among those involved in what they termed the "Black Hand" of CIA and foreign support in organizing the 2 million-strong Hong Kong demonstrations.
"They are saying that I am the Black Hand, together with the CIA, in planning the Hong Kong demonstration, and yet in the U.S. they point the finger at me, using the media to say that I am the Chinese spy," he said. "The thing is, they can go back and forth in whatever way to serve their own interests."
Guo said he is honored to be accused of helping the Hong Kong demonstrators that he supports.
Two years ago, Guo predicted Hong Kong would become a starting point for the demise of the CCP and it is now taking place, he said.
"I am not the Black Hand because nobody can be the Black Hand about what happened in Hong Kong," he said.
The protests in the former British colony are the result of China reneging on its promise to allow Hong Kong to operate under its "one country, two systems" policy that allowed the state to keep its democratic system.
Guo said he believes the time is right to bring about an end to Communist Party rule in China.
"Ninety-nine point nine percent of the Chinese people in China, including the 90 million members of the CCP, want to see the disappearance of that Communist Party," he said. "In fact the Chinese Communist Party only serves to facilitate the top 10 to 20 people of those five to 10 families in China. So when those people are taken down from power, the Communist Party will no longer exist."
Guo said his vision and mission for a future China is to liberate China from the corrupt Communist Party rule.
"We need to return the state and all its interests to the people—for example, land, oil, energy, education, natural resources," he said.
"We need to establish a China with rule of law. China at the moment is without rule of law, so it is extremely dangerous to the rest of the world and to the people in China. It is a threat and so we must establish rule of law—independent rule of law and an independent judiciary system in China. And that is of utmost importance."
A future China also must permit freedom of religion and create a democratic system of governance, he said.
"This is my vision and mission. It is a mission that I must put into reality," Guo said.