In the weeks before the U.S. presidential election, three prominent Chinese activists in the U.S. found their homes surrounded by anonymous protesters who accused them of spying for the Chinese Communist Party, my colleague Shawna Chen and I write.
Why it matters: The three activists, who had fled China due to repression from Chinese authorities, now face physical threats on U.S. soil.
- The protesters appeared to be supporters of an anti-CCP movement led by Guo Wengui and former White House adviser Steve Bannon.
What's happening: The trouble began in September, when Guo, a Chinese billionaire living in exile in the U.S. who has developed a large following, made a video denouncing a long list of well-known Chinese dissidents as supposed CCP spies.
- Among the names he mentioned were Bob Fu, Wu Jianmin, and Guo Baosheng (no relation to Guo Wengui), all long-time U.S. residents who fled China amid government repression.
Fu is a Chinese-American pastor in Midland, Texas, known for his work supporting Christians in China facing repression. A former leader of the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy movement, he fled China in 1997 amid state persecution.
- Fu and his family were taken into protective custody in October after dozens of protesters, apparently mobilized by online disinformation, protested outside their house for weeks.
- The protesters first arrived in buses outside his home in early October, holding signs accusing him of being a "CCP spy." The protesters, who refused to identify themselves, appeared to be of Chinese heritage and held signs in English and Chinese.
What he's saying: Fu told Axios that local law enforcement said there were "credible threats" against him and his family.
- "It’s very traumatic to my family, to my children," said Fu, who added that he doesn't have any relationship with Guo and doesn't know why Guo would accuse him of spying for China.
- "I cannot find any reasonable answer."
Wu Jianmin is a democracy activist who now lives in California.
- Between Sept. 23 and Nov. 20, 10 to 30 protesters gathered outside of Wu's home in southern California every day, he told Axios.
- Videos and photographs viewed by Axios show protesters holding signs accusing him of being a "fake anti-Communist," threatening him with a toilet plunger, and punching and kicking him in the face. They also shouted that he wanted to spread COVID-19 to kill his neighbors.
- Wu says local law enforcement told him the protesters had the right to rally as long as they did not infringe on his property. It wasn’t until Nov. 20 that Wu secured a restraining order against the protest leader, causing the protesters to disperse.
What he's saying: “I hope American law enforcement will stop Guo Wengui. He shouldn’t be allowed to do what he is doing,” Wu said.
- “They took videos outside my house every day and put them online,” he told Axios. “My children and wife are afraid and have expressed emotional trauma.”
Guo Baosheng is a CCP critic who lives in Virginia.
- For three days in late September, about 20 people surrounded Guo's house, Guo told Axios. They held anti-CCP signs, took photos of Guo, and waved flags of the New Federal State of China, an anti-CCP movement spearheaded by Guo Wengui and Bannon, according to photos viewed by Axios.
- But after Guo Baosheng successfully filed a protective order, the protesters stopped coming.
Axios reached out to Guo Wengui's lawyer for comment, but they did not respond before publication.
The bottom line: Whatever Guo Wengui is up to, it's making the lives of Chinese activists in the U.S. harder.