Macau Casino Tycoon’s Arrest Signals More Infighting Among China’s Political Elite: Expert

By Frank Yue
Frank Yue
Frank Yue
Frank Yue is a Canada-based journalist for The Epoch Times who covers China-related news. He also holds an M.A. in English language and literature from Tianjin Foreign Studies University, China.
December 10, 2021 Updated: December 10, 2021

The arrest of a casino mogul is sending shockwaves through China’s political ecosystem. The event might foreshadow Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s new political storm targeting his opponents, according to a China expert in exile.

Police detained Macau-based casino tycoon Alvin Chau, whose gambling business generates more than $157 billion annually, along with his 10 followers on Nov. 27 on charges of operating illegal betting and money laundering in mainland China, according to multiple media outlets.

The response of Macau police came one day after the public security department of eastern China’s Wenzhou city, Zhejiang Province, stated in a notice that the local procuratorate had issued a warrant for Chau’s arrest.

The notice said that Chau’s cross-border gambling group had grown into a syndicate with 199 shareholder-level agents, more than 12,000 casino agents, and a membership of over 80,000 in China by July 2020.

Every year, online platforms that his group created in the Philippines and Cambodia drew billions in profit from mainland Chinese gamblers, nearly twice China’s annual lottery income, according to a July 2019 report by state-run media outlet Economic Information Daily.

Currently, all of Chau’s VIP gambling rooms have been closed down.

Australia-based China expert Yuan Hongbing told The Epoch Times on Nov. 29 that Chau is far from an ordinary businessperson, given his complicated interaction with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Milestone in CCP Infighting

“The casino tycoon’s arrest is a milestone in the CCP’s internal, ever-growing struggle for power,” said Yuan.

Yuan’s connections, who also lived in Macau and worked within the CCP system, described Chau as an undercover asset agent for the Party’s elites, especially for the families of former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin and his close ally, Zeng Qinghong, according to the expert.

“The motivation of arresting the casino tycoon is to ruin the financial foundation of Jiang and his allies,” he said.

Yuan believes that Xi failed to achieve his goal—to be elevated to the same exalted status as communist China’s first leader, Mao Zedong—due to resistance from Jiang’s influence in the CCP’s sixth plenum, which ended on Nov. 11. In other words, Xi failed to negate the role of his old rival Jiang—whose influence remains in the country’s political arena—despite him formally stepping down in 2004.

Yuan also noted that Chau’s arrest was swift because China’s police system was recently restructured. Xi’s ally, Wang Xiaohong, took office as new head of the Ministry of Public Security on Nov. 19, eight days after the sixth plenum.

Taiwan-based financial expert Huang Shih-tsung said on the TV show “Critical Moments” that the name list of 80,000 Chinese gamblers is what the CCP is most concerned about, which must have included a great number of high-ranking Party officials.

Pro-CCP Casino Boss Abandoned

“Judged either by ideology or by behavior, the casino tycoon is a stalwart favoring the CCP’s tyranny,” said Huang.

Chau was heavily involved in various dealings with the Chinese regime.

In 2011, Chau created the Inspirational Youth Association Macau. A team of senior CCP officials were present at his inauguration, including Gao Yan, deputy director of China’s Liaison Office in Macau, and Cheong Kuoc Va, chief of the local Secretariat for Security.

Chau cooperated with Chinese studios Bona Film Group and Mountaintop Entertainment to shoot what Beijing calls “main melody films,” like “Operation Mekong” and “Operation Red Sea,” productions that met the Party’s political agenda and received high-profile appreciation from top CCP officials.

In 2019, he attended an event celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese communist regime.

Moreover, Chau held a long list of titles both in Macau and mainland China that included the following: a member of Macau’s Council for Cultural Industries (2015); an honorary adviser to the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification (2015); a member of China’s top political advisory body—the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC)—in Guangdong Province (2017); and president of Macau Films & Television Productions and Culture Association.

Yuan said Chau’s CPPCC membership indicates his status as a secret agent working for Beijing’s United Front Work Department, which is part of the CCP’s spying system that functions both domestically and globally.

Following Chau’s purge case as an economic blow, Xi would launch a new political storm targeting his opponents, the expert added.

Ning Haizhong and Luo Ya contributed to this report. 

Frank Yue
Frank Yue is a Canada-based journalist for The Epoch Times who covers China-related news. He also holds an M.A. in English language and literature from Tianjin Foreign Studies University, China.