Leaks, Lies, and Chinese Politics

What Guo Wengui Means for the Future of the Communist Party

Guo Wengui in New York, April 2017. Brendan McDermid / REUTERS

Earlier this year, Guo Wengui, an expatriate Chinese billionaire, began to make explosive allegations on YouTube and Twitter about China’s leaders. President Xi Jinping, Guo claimed, had sought incriminating information about Wang Qishan, Xi’s right-hand man and the chief of his anticorruption campaign. The figure tasked with rooting out China’s official graft, Guo suggested, was himself corrupt—if not directly, then through his family’s alleged financial holdings.

Guo’s claims seemed designed to sever China’s most important political relationship before this fall’s 19th Party Congress, where officials will determine Xi’s longevity as president and select members for China’s top decision-making bodies. Xi’s power rests in part on Wang’s anticorruption campaign, and any deterioration in the relationship between the two men–real or perceived–could embolden Xi’s rivals or rattle his supporters, who may defect to his opponents. 

Guo has

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