New media pioneer Matt Drudge has used his influential Twitter feed to report that Steve Bannon has squired a new benefactor for his political and media ambitions.
The tweet shows a picture of Bannon smiling with a gentleman Drudge identifies as “Miles Kwok aka Guo Wengui.” The tweet is classic Drudge with his trademark wit: “Steve Bannon finding opportunity and happiness in the arms of a new billionaire benefactor, Miles Kwok, aka Guo Wen Gui. Mercer is yesterday’s mashed potatoes…”
The “Mercer” reference alludes to reports that billionaire Rebekah Mercer has withdrawn her considerable financial support of Breitbart News, the website Bannon runs as Executive Chairman, after the recent string of damaging reports about Bannon that led to an unequivocal condemnation by President Trump Wednesday.
So, who is Miles Kwok aka Guo Wengui?
According to a 2017 New York Times article covering Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit with Trump in Mar-a-Lago, FL:
He is a billionaire who made his fortune in real estate. He has been called a narcissist. He posts to Twitter — incessantly — about politics and his battles against the media. Lately, he has been spending time at a Florida resort named Mar-a-Lago.
He built a fortune in the Darwinian world of Chinese real estate, and people who crossed him soon rued the day. In 2006, he handed to the police a sex tape of a Beijing deputy mayor who had disputed one of his land deals. The official was imprisoned and Mr. Guo got the property, building the torch-shaped Pangu Plaza next to Beijing’s Olympic Green, a landmark during the 2008 Summer Games.
He kept his extensive car collection in a vast underground parking lot, arranging the dozens of Ferraris, Rolls-Royces, Bentleys and Bugattis in petal shapes to show to visitors, said one person who knows him.
He is in a long-running public battle with China’s most prominent journalist, Hu Shuli, whose newsmagazine, Caixin, reported in 2015 that Mr. Guo used his ties to Ma Jian, a former vice minister in the country’s spy agency, to further his business interests. Mr. Ma was expelled from the Communist Party and is being prosecuted on graft charges. Mr. Guo accused Ms. Hu of being corrupt and working for a “behind the scenes” power broker. Caixin sued Mr. Guo, saying he defamed Ms. Hu.
Little is known about Guo’s connection with Bannon, but presumable the two could have met at Mar-a-Lago during the time Bannon was a staffer in Trump’s White House. Just one month after Trump fired Bannon he made a high-profile trip to Asia including a stop in Hong Kong.
Guo is very active on Twitter and has tweeted several pictures of himself and Bannon as recently as last October:
At the time, CNBC reported on the tweets and their significance:
In the post, the billionaire businessman, who is wanted in China on corruption charges, said he first met Bannon for lunch in Washington on Thursday after attending an event at the National Press Club. The second meeting came on Tuesday, when Bannon and his team visited Guo’s home in New York for a 3½-hour dinner.
The post was accompanied by four photographs of the two men. It did not say what they talked about, but said Bannon had agreed for the images to be posted on the social media site.
Neither Guo nor Bannon’s spokesperson immediately responded to requests for comment from the South China Morning Post.
The Twitter post came after Bannon was reported to have met Wang Qishan, head of China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which has spearheaded the Communist Party’s anti-graft campaign, in Beijing last month. Wang is at the centre of the unsubstantiated corruption allegations made by the exiled businessman against senior members of the party in the run-up to the 19th national congress, which starts next week.
It’s unclear how deep Bannon’s relationship might go with Guo, but generally speaking, when Matt Drudge has inside information on behind-the-scenes power plays in politics and media, you can take his reporting to the bank.