BBG Watch Commentary
Guo Wengui who is also known as Miles Kwok and is China’s most famous billionaire businessman and whistleblower seeking political asylum in the United States will speak at the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC on October 4, 2017 after his live interview with the Voice of America (VOA) Mandarin Service was cut short last April on orders of VOA director Amanda Bennett. The controversial decision to shorten the time in which he was expected to reveal to the Voice of America details of massive corruption within the Chinese Communist Party and its influence buying in the United States caused VOA to lose much of its previous credibility and reputation among its Chinese audience.
The Hudson Institute event will be moderated by Bill Gertz, senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon. Gertz is a national security columnist at The Washington Times, and author of The China Threat: How the People’s Republic Targets America.
After VOA’s senior leaders ordered Guo Wengui’s live interview to be shortened to 15 minutes (VOA Mandarin Service managed to extend it to 1 hour and 19 minutes, not counting regular VOA news programming with that timeframe), his revelations of corruption among Chinese communist leaders were published in much greater detail in a Washington Free Beacon article written by Bill Gertz. SEE: China’s Intelligence Networks in United States Include 25,000 Spies.
The President and CEO of the Hudson Institute is Kenneth R. Weinstein who is also presidentially-appointed and Senate-confirmed Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the overseeing board of VOA’s parent federal agency with its annual budget of $740 million (FY 2017).
VOA Mandarin Service chief Dr. Sasha Gong (left in in photo with Bennett on the right) and journalists, who had arranged for a live three-hour combination TV and Facebook interview with Guo Wengui in April, were opposed to VOA Director Amanda Bennett’s decision to have it shortened after the Chinese government informed VOA of its objections to the interview. In Bennett’s view, China’s communist rulers did not have a chance to examine Guo Wengui’s allegations in advance and to respond to them, which she said was a violation of “the journalistic principles of verification, balance and fairness that are standard industry practice and apply universally to all VOA services.” Previously, Bennett had encouraged VOA services to do more investigative reporting.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said later that the U.S. State Department had nothing to do with VOA senior management’s decision in this case. Responding to a question from Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Secretary Tillerson tentatively supported his call for an independent investigation of the interview incident by the Office of Inspector General (OIG).
Changqing Cao, a U.S. based independent Chinese journalist and political commentator who has a wide social media following in China, including Hong Kong, and appears in TV programs in Taiwan, released recently a 25-minute YouTube video in which he questioned VOA Director Amanda Bennett’s decision with regard to the Guo Wengui interview. He noted that her husband runs a educational testing business which makes multimillion dollar profits in China. As of September 26, the video was showing 68,900 views, over 1,000 likes, and 555 comments. These audience engagement numbers are many times better than what most VOA services show on a regular basis for such videos, social media posts, and news reports posted on VOA websites.
VOA director Amanda Bennett strongly denies that she had caved in to pressure from the Chinese government. She insists that in ordering the live VOA Mandarin Service interview with Guo Wengui to be shortened, her only intention was to uphold the highest journalistic standards at the Voice of America.
We are not aware of any public response from Ms. Bennett to reports of her husband’s business operations in China. She appears to have full support of BBG CEO John F. Lansing. Both of them are Obama administration era appointees who have not yet been replaced by the Trump administration.
Former BBG Chairman Jeff Shell, who still serves as one of the Democrats on the bipartisan BBG Board, is reported to be involved in a multimillion dollar business deal in China and seeking business deals in Russia in his private sector job as chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment. According to a Los Angeles Times report from February 17, 2016, China’s Perfect World was to invest up to $450 million in Universal film slate.
Kenneth Weistein had replaced Jeff Shell as BBG Chairman after the inauguration of President Trump, but John F. Lansing, who had been recommended for the BBG CEO job by Shell in 2015 and approved by the bipartisan board which then had a Democratic majority, is still in charge of the increasingly dysfunctional agency.
After the Guo Wengui interview incident, VOA’s senior leaders lashed out at the VOA Mandarin Service journalists by putting five of them on administrative leave with pay and subjecting them to an internal investigation, in which one of the initial investigators hired by the BBG was also doing business in China. Critics say that only an independent investigation by the Office of Inspector General can get to the bottom of the shortened Guo Wengui interview scandal.
Mr. Guo will discuss high-level corruption in Chinese politics and its implications for the upcoming Party Congress, as well as the threat China’s kleptocracy poses to the United States and its allies.
The New York Times described corruption allegations made by Mr. Guo against senior Party officials as “the biggest political story in China this year.” In a recent Washington Times article, Mr. Guo described his revelations as an effort to “expose the leviathan Chinese Mafia state, the most corrupt, tyrannical, and brutal state on earth, bar North Korea, a state some of whose leaders systematically have stolen trillions of dollars of the Chinese people’s wealth.”
The event will be on-the-record and Mr. Guo will answer questions submitted in advance by the audience. The discussion will be moderated by Bill Gertz, senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon, national security columnist at The Washington Times, and author of The China Threat: How the People’s Republic Targets America.
Attendance is by invitation only and attendees must present a valid ID in order to access the event. No exceptions will be made.
The event will be live-streamed and a video of the discussion will be available to view online after the event has concluded.
- Guo Wengui (Speaker)
- Bill Gertz (Moderator)
- 10:00 am – 11:00 am: Conversation with Bill Gertz and Guo Wengui
- 11:00 am – 11:30 am: Q & A
Event inquiries should be directed to email@example.com.