(Corrects to show a request for comment was sent by email, not
fax, in paragraph 11)
BEIJING, April 20 (Reuters) - China's Foreign Ministry said
on Wednesday Interpol had issued a "red notice" for Guo Wengui,
a controversial property tycoon who has made claims of
high-level corruption within the ruling Communist Party.
Guo, who is known to have close ties with disgraced former
state security vice-minister Ma Jian, has mainly lived in the
United States since leaving China two years ago after what he
says was a business dispute with relatives of a retired top
Communist Party official.
The South China Morning Post first reported that an Interpol
"red notice" was issued for Guo at China's request on Tuesday
evening, citing unidentified sources.
The newspaper said Guo was suspected of bribing Ma with 60
million yuan ($8.71 million). Ma, who worked in
counter-espionage, is being prosecuted for graft and was
expelled from the Communist Party in December.
"What we understand is that Interpol has already issued a
'red notice' for criminal suspect Guo Wengui," foreign ministry
spokesman Lu Kang said at a regular press briefing in Beijing on
Wednesday, without elaborating.
A "red notice" is an international alert for a wanted
Guo, writing on his Twitter account, said Interpol was an
organisation and not a government and had no administrative
powers, and that for many years he had had no Chinese identity
"This will only make Wengui fight even more resolutely to
the end with these bad people. This is all just the beginning!"
he wrote, without elaborating.
In a live television interview with Voice of America's (VoA)
Chinese-language service broadcast late Wednesday, Guo denied
bribing Ma Jian and made fresh allegations about business
empires controlled by the families of Chinese leaders. The
claims could not be immediately substantiated.
The Chinese government had pressured VoA to cancel the
interview ahead of time, with the Foreign Ministry summoning one
of the broadcaster's Beijing-based correspondents on Monday,
sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
The foreign ministry did not immediately respond to an email
on Thursday seeking comment.
While the broadcast aired as planned, it ended well short of
the scheduled three hours advertised beforehand. About 80
minutes in, a VoA host abruptly said they needed to end the
broadcast due to "certain reasons".
A VoA spokeswoman said the original plan was always to keep
the live stream to one hour and attributed the abrupt end to
"In a miscommunication, the stream was allowed to continue
beyond the first hour," a Voice of America spokeswoman, Bridget
Serchak, said in an emailed statement. "When this was noticed,
the feed was terminated. We will release content from these
interviews and will continue to report on corruption issues."
Chinese President Xi Jinping sees extravagance and
corruption as an existential threat to the Communist Party. In
the latest effort to tackle graft, state media said late on
Wednesday that the China has issued stricter regulations
requiring officials to report personal information, including
assets, to the party.
Responding by email to questions regarding Guo, Interpol
said it did not comment on specific cases without the approval
of the country sharing information on investigations and
China's Ministry of Public Security did not respond to
requests for comment.
($1 = 6.8867 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Philip Wen; Editing by Simon