An exiled billionaire has accused the Chinese government of giving the Vatican £1.6billion every year in bribes to prevent it from criticising Beijing’s sweeping clampdown on religions.
Fugitive tycoon Guo Wengui claimed in a podcast that the Communist Party had been paying the Holy See generously since 2014 because Beijing ‘wanted the Vatican to shut up about China‘s religion policies.’
US-based Guo, 52, said in the interview that the Communist country had also spent large sums to muzzle other countries – including Italy and Australia – from voicing concerns.
The billionaire’s comment comes after China faced widespread criticism over its crackdown on the country’s religious groups, particularly the ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims.
Guo, who is known for his criticism against the Communist Party, made his bombshell claims on June 20 during an interview with The War Room, an American podcast hosted by an ex-Trump adviser, Steve Bannon.
The highly wanted dissident said that the Chinese Communist Party had been allocating £1.6billion each year to gain influence over the Vatican in the past six years.
‘[They] want Vatican to shut up and follow the CCP about the religion polices,’ Guo said on the radio show. ‘That is disaster.’
The Chinese dissident also claimed that the Chinese government was paying the Holy See with $100million (£80million) before 2014, without specifying when those payments initially started.
‘CCP knows, if the Vatican tells the truth about Chinese Christians and Catholics, CCP is die,’ Guo said.
‘CCP is so worried, so they give two billion [dollars] to the Vatican, 1.5 billion [dollars] to Australia, 100million [dollars] to Italy,’ he added.
The Chinese tycoon was speaking with Steve Bannon, former Trump strategist, on Bannon’s self-launched radio show.
Bannon, who was also the former executive chairman of the right-leaning Breitbart News, set up the radio show in October from the basement of his Capitol Hill rowhome, long branded the ‘Breitbart Embassy’.
He also brought in former Breitbart London editor Raheem Kassam and Jason Miller, the Trump 2016 campaign’s spokesman, as co-hosts.
The show is said to be broadcast on six conservative talk radio stations in Florida and Virginia, as well as streamed online as podcast.
Guo, a former member of China’s Communist Party, fled to the US after learning he was wanted for bribery, fraud, money laundering, as well as rape.
A prominent real estate developer with a net worth of more than two billion dollars, Guo was accused of engaging in shady business deals in a 2015 report by Beijing-based media outlet Caixin, which he has denied.
Since then, he has become a self-described political activist claiming to shed light on alleged corruption within the Chinese government and has publicly criticised the country’s ruling Communist party in interviews and on Twitter.
Guo has developed a relationship with Bannon – who has also been an outspoken critic of the Chinese Communist Party.
The two announced their plans to set up a $100million investigation into Chinese corruption in November, the New York Times reported.
Guo’s interview comes as China has been heavily criticised by other countries and humanitarian groups over its policy against Muslims and other religious groups.
UN experts and activists have claimed that at least one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims are held in the detention centres in the region.
Former detainees claimed that Muslims were forced to eat pork and speak Mandarin in those internment camps.
After initially denying their existence, China acknowledged that it had opened ‘vocational education centres’ in Xinjiang aimed at preventing extremism by teaching Mandarin and job skills.