Chinese tycoon Guo Wengui asks asylum in the US
On the run since 2014, he fears Beijing’s retribution. The Chinese government wants the tycoon arrested. Guo is under investigation in China for corruption, kidnapping, fraud, money laundering and rape. He denies the charges, which he claims are politically motivated. No extradition treaty exists between the US and China. His tourist visa in the US will expire by the end of the year.
New York (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui has asked for political asylum in the United States. Beijing has sought his arrest.
The controversial tycoon, also known as Miles Kwok, claims that he is "perceived as a political opponent of the Chinese regime," his lawyer Thomas Ragland said.
State media outlets have accused the 50-year-old of bribing a vice-minister, a charge which Mr Guo has denied.
The Chinese government in April issued a global "red notice" through the global police co-operation agency Interpol for Mr Guo's arrest.
Chinese authorities have reportedly investigated Mr Guo for at least 19 crimes including kidnapping, fraud and money laundering. Last month Chinese police opened an investigation into a new allegation of rape against him.
In April, Chinese news media said Mr Guo had bribed the former vice-minister of state security, Ma Jian, with 60 million yuan (US$ 8.7m). Mr Ma has since been arrested and is being prosecuted for corruption.
Mr Guo has denied the charges and suggested the arrest warrant was politically motivated. "He fears that the Chinese regime would seek retribution for the things he's been saying and the exposure he's been responsible for," Mr Ragland said.
Mr Guo, who left China in 2014, has published a series of tweets and YouTube videos to allege corruption among top members of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, including Beijing's anti-corruption czar, Wang Qishan.
He has also released what he alleges are official state secrets ahead of the 19th Communist Party congress, which is held every five years and is scheduled to begin on 18 October.
Though Mr Guo has not provided substantial evidence for his claims, his criticism has drawn fire from Beijing.
No extradition treaty exists between the United States and China. The two sides need to engage in bilateral talks to repatriate any overseas fugitives back to their home country case by case.
As an asylum applicant, Mr Guo, whose tourist visa is due to expire later this year, is entitled remain in the US until a final administrative decision is reached. On average, the asylum application process can take two to three years.
In the United States, Mr Guo also faces a series of defamation lawsuits by several Chinese individuals and companies.
Mr Guo says he is no longer a citizen of China. In April, he told Voice of America's Chinese-language service he had passports from 11 countries, but it is unclear why he would not move to another country once his US visa expires.