When Stephen Bannon was released from a Manhattan federal courthouse Thursday, he was met with an unexpected sight: a group of protestors waving flags of the New Federal State of China, an effort backed by Bannon and Guo Wengui, the Chinese billionaire on whose yacht Bannon was detained.
“The New Federal State of China, the support of the Chinese people was absolutely unbelievable,” Bannon said on Friday about his release. “They had all those blue flags there, that’s the flag of the new federal state, it’s absolutely incredible.”
What Bannon is discussing here is the latest in a series of bizarre but very real attempts by him and Guo to hit out at Beijing. In this case, it’s a government-in-exile that Bannon is promoting with the Chinese billionaire.
But Bannon and Guo’s relationship is all the more relevant amid reports that the FBI and SEC are investigating the pair, suggesting that the former Trump campaign manager is facing down another federal probe in addition to the one in which he was already arrested. In a statement, Guo said that the wall allegations “do not relate to any of our work,” and that he appreciates “the presumption of innocence and the right for a fair trial before an impartial judge.”
Here are 5 Points on how to make sense of the pair’s relationship.
The FBI Sought Guo Out As An Informant
Guo, who also goes by Miles Kwok, applied for asylum the U.S. in 2017. Armed with a bevy of documents and recordings that, he claimed, showed corruption at high levels of the Chinese government (and missile sales to North Korea), Guo quickly drew the attention of both Trump administration hawks and Beijing.
In particular, Guo reportedly attracted interest from the FBI, who wished to use him as an informant, and from the Chinese government, who sent agents to his Manhattan high-rise in a failed bid to convince him to return home.
Guo has remained in the U.S. since then, continuing to tweet and broadcast allegations of corruption against the Chinese government.
Guo Made A Name For Himself With Lurid Corruption Accusations Against The Chinese Elite
It’s not clear why Guo left China. Beijing has filed charges against him for fraud, which Guo has said are baseless and politically motivated.
For his part, Guo has said that he left China in late 2014, after people close to him ran into problems with Chinese law enforcement and, the New York Times reported, while anticipating his own graft charges.
But Guo didn’t begin to seek a larger public profile until 2017, when he began posting lurid and unverified accusations of corruption among the Chinese elite on Twitter. That succeeded in gaining Guo a large following among Chinese expats and within China itself.
In October of that year, Guo also attended a Hudson Institute event, which was reportedly attacked by China-backed hackers.
That event, however, is reportedly where Bannon and Guo first made contact.
Bannon Saw A Shared Goal In Fighting The Chinese Communist Party
The Hudson event came months after Bannon left the White House in a level of ignominy.
But Guo’s very public campaign against the Chinese communist party aligned with Bannon’s oft-stated belief that the government in Beijing is America’s greatest foe.
The details of what happened next remain unclear. But, according to a contract obtained by Axios, a company linked to Guo signed an agreement under which it would pay the former Trump campaign chairman $1 million per year for “strategic communications services.” The contract also reportedly stipulated that Bannon would introduce the company, Guo Media, to “media personalities.”
More recently, the pair has been involved with a series of news websites, including one called GTV and another called Voice of Guo.
The pair can be seen enjoying melons on Guo’s yacht in tweets posted by the website:
— 战友之家 (@VOG2020) August 15, 2020
Serious Allegations Emerge While Building An Anti-Chinese Government Media Empire
The pair are linked to a number of different media efforts, all apparently aimed at discrediting the current Chinese government.
GTV, for example, is a Youtube-like video website that features streaming content from Guo. Here is a video that Guo streamed from his yacht following Bannon’s arrest, where he eats scallops and discusses the situation.
But the effort to create an anti-Beijing media apparatus has run into problems amid reported allegations of a private offering for one of the companies gone wrong. The company raised $300 million in a private offering this spring, Guo has said. But investors reportedly never got any documentation of their investments, leading to the purported federal investigation.
Guo has denied the allegations, saying in an article posted to one of his websites that the Journal’s article is a “prelude to the CCP’s operation of destroying the Whistleblower Movement.”
“In the next few days, the CCP and the dark forces of the West will launch the most ‘ferocious and full attack’ on the Whistleblower Movement and the international justice alliance,” the article, published on Thursday after Bannon’s arrest, reads. “The purpose is to destroy the Whistleblower Movement, or ‘at least take half of their life.'”
The Duo Try To Create A New Chinese State
In June, Bannon and Guo announced what appears to be the driving point of their media campaign: the creation of the New Federal State of China, an attempt at building a government-in-exile to one day replace the Chinese communist party.
The move was heralded by planes towing signs around New York City that read “Congratulations to the Federal State of New China,” triggering confusion among both New Yorkers and Fox News.
What does it mean? The sign in English says “Congratulations to the Federal State of New China” at least 5 planes flying over the Hudson in circles pic.twitter.com/4Kugqfwa5A
— Chris G (@GreyFlea) June 3, 2020
— Lorena (@lorenasm2014) June 4, 2020
Bannon and Guo announced the new state onboard Guo’s yacht, stationed in front of the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor.
The pair’s exact demands are left unclear from the video, but their rage is intact:
One website linked to Guo published a video of the billionaire’s yacht sailing through New York City while departing the event, as a mix of American and Chinese pop played in the background.