BBG Watch Commentary

Even though his exposé of corruption among China’s communist leaders and their attempts to buy influence in the United States was cut short on orders of senior management of the Voice of America (VOA), Chinese billionaire businessman turned whistleblower Guo Wengui is still grateful for freedom in the United States.

It is important to point out that VOA Mandarin Service journalists, who had arranged for a live interview with Guo Wengui, were opposed to VOA Director Amanda Bennett’s decision to have it shortened. In her 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.” U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the U.S. State Department had nothing to do with VOA senior management’s decision in this case. VOA is overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). 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).

In an unprecedented move against frontline journalists, VOA’s senior management put five VOA Mandarin Service broadcasters, including the service chief, on administrative leave with pay and started an internal investigation, which critics say has been flawed. VOA Mandarin Service journalists said that they had tried to get the Chinese government to respond but were met with silence except for official public denunciations of Guo Wengui which they included in the interview program. Prior to the shortened VOA interview, the Chinese government issued an arrest warrant for Guo Wengui who now lives in the United States.

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 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 business which makes profits in China. As of late evening September 20, the video was showing 68,000 views, over 1,000 likes, and 550 comments.

Since the incident with the VOA interview, Guo Wengui has applied for political asylum in the United States. In “A thank you to America,” op-ed published on September 18 in The Washington Times, Guo Wengui praised “the great American tradition of upholding justice and respect for human rights.”

GUO WENGUI WASHINGTON TIMES OP-ED: “It is my hope that a fair-minded and strictly lawful treatment of my asylum application will enable me all the more to reveal the glaring contrast between the American and the Chinese ways of government. It is a difference as stark as night and day, and between vice and virtue. This has made me all the more determined to continue my own fight for freedom, democracy, rule of law and an independent judiciary in my home country of China, and to continue to expose corruption, particularly at the highest levels of the Chinese government.”

READ MORE: “A thank you to America – An asylum seeker from China facing political persecution recalls his grim struggle and his unlikely triumph.” ANALYSIS/OPINION by Guo Wengui. The Washington Times, September 18, 2017.