Chinese billionaire in exile Guo Wengui broke a long period of silence this year by giving video interviews, in which he described the complex web of business and politics connecting China’s elite.
One of the most surprising revelations from Guo’s interviews, given to overseas Chinese media, is what he had to say on the subject of forced organ harvesting from Chinese prisoners of conscience—in particular from practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice that is heavily persecuted by the Chinese regime.
After describing how his now-imprisoned business rival, Li You, was able to obtain a liver for transplant without any difficulty, Guo said he made inquiries through his network in China about the source of the liver and found that it was to come from a murdered practitioner of Falun Gong (at the time of the interview, Li had not yet undergone the liver transplant).
In a tweet, Guo apologized to adherents of Falun Gong (also called Falun Dafa), saying that he previously thought the allegations of organ harvesting were a hoax. “But judging from Li You getting a new liver, I saw that this kind of thing is really happening! I didn’t make this clear [in the interview], so here I express my apologies to Falun Gong believers,” Guo said.
Guo later voiced support for the group, which has been suppressed by communist authorities since 1999, on the orders of then-Chinese leader Jiang Zemin. The Communist Party labelled Falun Gong an “evil religion” as an excuse for its persecution.
Citing Falun Gong’s main philosophical tenets, Guo said Falun Gong practitioners were people who had “indeed put ‘truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance’ into practice,” and were “very friendly and dedicated.”
“I really have no idea why [Falun Gong] was labeled an ‘evil religion’,” Guo said in a March 12 telephone interview with a reporter from New Tang Dynasty Television, a Chinese-language broadcaster and sister media of The Epoch Times based in New York.
Guo’s comments about organ harvesting corroborate, from a unique angle, what human rights researchers have long been investigating: whether it has been not just death-row inmates, but also prisoners of conscience—mostly Falun Gong, as well as independent Chinese Christians, Uyghurs, and Tibetans—who have been killed on the operating table to feed China’s massive organ transplant industry.
The inside revelations on Falun Gong and organ harvesting reportedly invited ire from the Chinese authorities, sources close to the regime told The Epoch Times. Simultaneously, Guo’s statements reflect a little-known role that Falun Gong plays in political infighting within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Guo, the controlling shareholder of Beijing Zenith Holdings and other companies, is known as being “a pair of white gloves”—a money launderer for top regime officials. Like Xiao Jianhua (a prominent financier who was disappeared from his Hong Kong residence in January and investigated by authorities), Guo is associated with fallen Party cadres who were purged under current Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign. He is also associated with retired Chinese leaders, such as former vice president Zeng Qinghong. Guo fled China in 2015.
Zeng is a close ally of Jiang, the retired Chinese leader who had strong-armed the Party leadership into accepting the otherwise unpopular anti-Falun Gong policy. Jiang saw the group as representing a potential ideological challenge to communist rule, and devised the campaign against them as a means of increasing his political capital.
But instead of breaking under imprisonment in China’s vast system of labor camps and near-constant demonization by state-controlled media, the estimated tens of millions of Falun Gong adherents continued to practice their faith, and resisted the persecution through civil disobedience for nearly two decades, long outlasting Jiang’s formal time in office.
To secure their legacy and maintain their political power, Jiang, Zeng, and other confidants placed allies and associates into positions of influence across the ranks of the Party, civil government, military, and industrial leadership.
Since 2012, when Xi took the reins from his predecessor Hu Jintao as CCP general secretary, many of Jiang’s allies have been directly or indirectly targeted in an unrelenting anti-corruption campaign. And while Western observers are quick to see the reinforcement of communist autocracy in today’s leadership, Xi has not displayed enthusiasm for continuing the persecution of Falun Gong. A recent New York Times feature even suggested that he might have an interest in Buddhism and in energy practices called qigong, of which Falun Gong is an example.
By publicly broaching organ harvesting—a mass slaughter that the Party has a stake in keeping in the dark—Guo may be trying to establish a rapport with the Falun Gong community, as well as overseas Chinese media, multiple sources told The Epoch Times.
Guo could also be motivated by self-preservation: In the wake of Xiao Jianhua’s abduction and his business peer Li You’s sentencing, as well as the overall shift in the balance of power against the Jiang faction, the absconded tycoon may be trying to position himself based on his new reading of China’s political trends.