On October 29, 2020, The Washington Post published an opinion piece by Josh Rogin, a distinguished China observer and author of the book Chaos Under Heaven: Trump, Xi, and the Battle for the 21st Century – a compelling story of how then-President Donald J. Trump and his team struggled to deal with the significant economic and national security threats posed to the U.S. by the Chinese government. In his opinion piece, Rogin reveals one such security threat – a massive, covert disinformation campaign led by a seemingly anti-Communist, pro-USA “billionaire.” Rogin also suggests the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] is behind a well-orchestrated disinformation campaign that is aggressively penetrating right-wing circles as agents of socio-political chaos.
Below are excerpts from Rogin’s op-ed:
“There is also a separate effort, aimed at supporting Trump and spreading disinformation about Joe Biden, that is run by a Chinese billionaire who claims to be a dissident but whose actions sometimes align with CCP [Chinese Communist Party] goals […]
“Guo Wengui, a close ally of Stephen K. Bannon, has interjected himself and his ‘whistleblower movement’ directly into the middle of the presidential election. His Chinese-language news website, GNews, has been publishing documents and videos purported to be from Hunter Biden’s lost laptop. The substance of the material ranges from allegations of business ties with Chinese executives to lewd, personal content.
“Pastor Bob Fu [a Chinese American who heads the group China Aid and who believes he’s been a target of Wengui], who is now in hiding with his family under police protection, told me he believes Guo is not an anti-CCP dissident, but rather hunting dissidents on behalf of the CCP. It’s no coincidence, Fu said, that official Chinese propaganda outlets (including the Global Times) are attacking the same Chinese dissidents in the United States as Guo.
“This bears the clear mark of the CCP actively meddling and interfering in the 2020 presidential election,” said Fu. “With such a large-scale disinformation campaign, you don’t really have to think of this as beneficial to either candidate. The information operation is meant to cause confusion and chaos for the American electorate and hurt both sides.”
In psychological warfare, it’s unwise to ask binary questions. Chaos is the goal, and always follow the money. Guo Wengui’s ties to Steve Bannon are public knowledge. On August 20, 2020, Steve Bannon was arrested aboard Guo’s yacht on federal fraud charges, for which he was later pardoned by former President Trump.
Multiple published articles and court documents indicate Guo Wengui, Steve Bannon, and others, are either wittingly, or unwittingly, a part of a controlled opposition operation funded by the CCP, to create chaos in American society. A controlled opposition is a protest movement or operation that is actually being controlled by government agents. This report is part of a Hark Herald Press ongoing series, where we will be peeling back the opaque layers in what we believe is a multi-faceted attack on America.
GUO WENGUI AND STEVE BANNON
Guo Wengui pledged $100 million to Steve Bannon’s newly formed nonprofit “Rule of Law Society.” Recall, Bannon was pardoned by Trump for alleged fraud in the “Build the Wall” nonprofit that received millions of dollars from Trump supporters. This information places articles like this which read like press releases in deeper perspective: Chinese Billionaire to Create $100 Million Fund to Aid Victims of Communist Purge.
Bannon also received a $1 million per year “consulting fee” from Guo-TV, according to this Seattle Times report: Chinese businessman with links to Steve Bannon is driving force for a sprawling disinformation network, researchers say. Our sources say they believe Steve Bannon is Chinese asset.
It’s worth noting that Guo Wengui recently pleaded the 5th Amendment 47 times during a hearing in the United States Federal District Court in New York, when questioned about his ties to the Chinese Ministry of State Security and to William Je, an alleged “money man,” with close ties to the Chinese United Front. The Chinese United Front is a separate Chinese Intelligence agency. To learn more, see Eastern Profit Corporation Limited v. Strategic Vision US, Case No. 1:18-cv-02185-LJL (SDNY 2018), Doc. 368, beginning at p. 3.
A THREAT TO AMERICA
Many Americans are unaware Communist China may be a threat to the U.S. political system, and is actively involved in disinformation campaigns. Many naively believe Communist China is pro-Biden and anti-Trump, and that the massive disinformation campaigns of 2020 were primarily driven by Russia.
These beliefs are incorrect, and even dangerous.
The cause of this may be that the independent news media is focused on Russia as being the primary agent of disruption, while the corporate news channels largely ignore foreign influence. Recall the Steele Dossier, where Trump associates were glad that his financial ties to China were not under close scrutiny, and that the emphasis is on Russia. U.S. intelligence agencies appear to have downplayed the Chinese threat, as well. The September 2020 report by U.S. intelligence validates this point: it states “We assess that China did not deploy interference efforts and considered but did not deploy influence efforts intended to change the outcome of the U.S. Presidential election.” It identified both Russia and Iran as the primary actors in the dissemination of misinformation tied to both the election and COVID-19. For reference, see: U.S. intelligence agencies say Russia, Iran were most involved in 2020 election interference.
On the surface, the Chinese disinformation activities look disorganized and appear like lone wolves grifting for money. Our open source investigation suggests, however, that they are all part of a sophisticated operation driven by the Chinese government, with the primary tactic to introduce misinformation into social media. There appears to be a well-coordinated effort to drive wedges into Western society.
CHINESE DISINFORMATION IS SATURATING AMERICA
A plethora of anti-Chinese Communist Party dissidents from the Chinese community have been recruited to push disinformation on numerous media platforms against the COVID-19 vaccine, and the “Big Lie” about the 2020 election being stolen. According to our sources, the meta-narrative they push echoes the one developed by the Russian FSB (the successor to the KGB). Here are some of the main thematic points hammered home to Americans:
- Democrats are bad
- Democrats are actually communists
- Republicans are good
- Trump is a savior that inspires hope, freedom and prosperity for ChinaOne consistent disinformation machine is the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times, where propaganda campaigns allegedly by the Chinese government are rampant. A side-by-side comparison between the English and the Chinese editions will reveal evidence that the Chinese language edition is much more volatile than the English language edition. For additional details on The Epoch Times, see: “Spear Fishing in America: Is The Epoch Times Controlled Opposition?” by investigative reporter Heidi Siegmund Cuda.Our investigation found that the “anti-CCP” segment of the Chinese community has become an increasingly important funding source for right-wing U.S. groups, including the Proud Boys. Chinese Americans who do not speak English, or little English, often rely on Chinese editions of newspapers for their information. As a result, news outlets like The Epoch Times are a vehicle to inject disinformation into the narrative. This also results in disproportionate contributions from Chinese Americans to right-wing groups.
Disinformation campaigns, facilitated by Chinese intelligence, spread freely on Chinese social media because few fact-checking organizations have staff fluent in Mandarin, our sources say. In addition, it’s dangerous to fact check and even to be a true reporter in China.
WeChat is an example of a social media site monitored by Chinese cyber police and intelligence. The importance of this is revealed when we investigated how they favor groups disseminating disinformation. As an example, in WeChat, which is a popular Chinese-run app, at least one group known for disseminating constant disinformation is permitted 16 times the maximum user size permitted by their own rules for regular WeChat users, according to our open source investigation. Numerous WeChat magazines continue to prosper on anti-vax, pro-Trump, and pro-“Big Lie” themes, gathering hundreds of thousands of subscribers while those telling the truth about democratic attacks are being shut down.
Notably, it’s not just the U.S. that is being targeted. We are seeing a significant increase in disinformation targeting U.S. allies as well. Chinese-driven disinformation campaigns in the U.S. and Australia share identical messages. Both are being driven by misled anti-CCP groups in the Chinese Community. During the 2020 general election in the United States, Chinese-financed social media, newspapers, and broadcast media groups were promoting the same narratives: theories of voter fraud, calling for a military coup to overturn the election, demanding an arrest of the Democrats, calling for the beheading of Biden, and for the imposition of martial law by Trump.
WAKE UP AMERICA
Americans generally do not know the origins of much of the disinformation they are bombarded with daily. While Guo Wengui is regarded as anti-CCP, our investigation reveals that might be a front. A final example: in October 2020, Guo Wengui helped drive the disinformation campaign against Hunter Biden. (See, Chinese Billionaire’s Network Hyped Hunter Biden Dirt Weeks Before Rudy Giuliani and Inside the campaign to ‘pizzagate’ Hunter Biden).
Guo is not alone. “Since 2016, the Falun Gong-backed newspaper [The Epoch Times] has used aggressive Facebook tactics and right-wing misinformation to create an anti-China, pro-Trump media empire,” according to the NY Times. See, How The Epoch Times Created a Giant Influence Machine.
Lastly, it’s important to recall that despite U.S. intelligence services releasing a report stating they found Russia and Iran most involved in interference with the 2020 election, this does not mean we should not be paying close attention to disinformation coming from China. The report discounted China’s use of multiple, coordinated disinformation sources to convince the Chinese community to support and donate to Donald Trump and his supporters. It is our hope that U.S. intelligence agencies will be following up with another report that explores Chinese influence, which can be so easily found on Facebook, Twitter, and in Chinese-American media.
A CLEAR BIG PICTURE
American democracy is under attack by a type of warfare that we, as a nation, have not experienced at this heightened level before. The U.S. may have been guilty in the past of engaging in cold wars with other nations, but right or wrong, those attempts were often directed at protecting and spreading democratic principles.
To defend America against modern psychological warfare, it is paramount the American public have access to factual information, that is well-sourced and easily verifiable. It should start with a clear big picture, and we will continue bringing more information on foreign influence campaigns as news breaks.
More to come.
Hark Herald Staff