Skip to main content

The Strange Alliance Between the American Far Right and Chinese Anti-Communists

In my previous post I wrote about far right activist Xi Van Fleet (弗里特), whose crusade against critical race theory has been covered by media outlets such as the Washington Examiner and "Fox News". Born in the People's Republic of China (PRC), she experienced Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution and fled to the United States at the age of 26.

In the summer of 2021, Fox reported on Xi Van Fleet's tirade against critical race theory at a Loudoun County School Board meeting. 

"I’ve been very alarmed by what’s going on in our schools," she said.  "You are now teaching, training our children to be social justice warriors and to loathe our country and our history ... The Communist regime used the same critical theory to divide people ... The only difference is they used class instead of race ... This is indeed the American version of the Chinese Cultural Revolution ... The critical race theory has its roots in cultural Marxism. It should have no place in our school."

Xi Van Fleet's political activism highlights a peculiar phenomenon that has emerged in recent years, namely the support for the American far right among segments of the Chinese-American community as well as mainland Chinese and Hong Kong dissidents. 

Hong Kong media tycoon and critic of the Chinese Communist regime Jimmy Lai meets then-VP Mike Pence at the White House, 8 July 2019. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Although about 60 percent of Asian Americans voted for Joe Biden in 2020, when broken down by ethnicity, the lowest levels of support for the Democratic Party come from Vietnamese (23%) and Chinese (42%).

Donald Trump enjoyed popularity among segments of the Chinese-American community, Chinese dissidents, Hongkongers and Taiwanese. Let us look at a few examples.

Solomon Yue (Chinese: 俞怀松, born in 1959), an American Republican Party activist and businessperson, vice chairman and CEO of the lobbying group Republicans Overseas, and the national committeeman of the Republican Party of Oregon, has been a staunch supporter of Donald Trump. 

On his LinkedIn profile, Yue calls himself "an entrepreneur, a business leader, an immigrant, a U.S. citizen and a national political leader" who "lived through and escaped China's Cultural Revolution ... For the past 15 years, he has been regarded as one of the driving forces bringing change to the Republican National Committee (RNC)."

Yue has spread various conspiracy theories and has likened the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests to Mao's Cultural Revolution, a common trope in far right circles. 

Wang Dan, a veteran of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, who was jailed for his participation in the pro-democracy movement and later emigrated to Taiwan and the United States, openly endorsed Trump. 

On October 2, 2020, he wrote on his Facebook page: 

"There is only one reason why I endorsed Trump for a second term: his team's policy and orientation in opposing the Chinese Communist Party ... I also think that Trump's words and deeds are dangerous for American democracy, but right now, the greatest danger for democracy and freedom is not Trump, but the Chinese Communist Party ... Even though I don't like Trump as an individual, this is the reason why I support Trump's re-election." 

The Epoch Times, a far right media company affiliated with the Chinese Falun Gong movement, has also spread conspiracy theories and far right culture war propaganda. 

The Epoch Times was founded in New York in August 2000 and it is one of the largest overseas Chinese media outlets. Its main focus was the coverage of the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners by the Chinese Communist Party and human rights abuses in the PRC. The Epoch Times drew international attention when one of its reporters, Wang Wenyi, publicly heckled PRC President Hu Jintao for several minutes during a visit at the White House (Thornton 2010, p. 231). 

Since 2016, the Epoch Times has shifted to the far right, endorsing Trump and spreading far right conspiracy theories and tropes. 

The Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei, though initially critical of Trump, often used his Twitter account to retweet and spread far right messages. In August 2020, he quoted Trump, writing: "If we [i.e. Trump and the Republicans] don't get elected, China will totally vanquish the US". 

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, an opponent of the Chinese Communist Party, became a vocal Trump supporter in 2019. As the 2020 US presidential election approached, Lai stated in a CNN interview: “Only Trump can save Hong Kong.”

Another interesting case is that of Chinese dissident lawyer Chen Guangcheng. In 2012, Chen fled house arrest in his rural town in China and sought refuge at the US embassy, causing a diplomatic spat between Washington and Beijing. 

In May 2012, after "an arduous negotiation process headed by Secretary of State [Hillary] Clinton," as Forbes reported at the time, Chen Guangcheng arrived in the US

Nevertheless, Chen later became a critic of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, and he endorsed Donald Trump at the 2020 Republican National Convention.

Another prominent pro-Trump Chinese dissident is the business tycoon Guo Wengui (also known as Miles Guo and Miles Kwok). Guo used to belong to China's business elite with ties to powerful government officials. In 2014 he was the 74th richest person in the country with a net worth of $2.6 billion. His most high-profile property development project was the Pangu Plaza, a torch-shaped building close to many of the 2008 Beijing Olympic venues.

Guo fell out of favour with the regime in 2014. The following year Li You, one of his business partners, was arrested by police on corruption charges. Ma Jian, a former senior spy chief who was reportedly close to Guo, was detained in 2016 on charges of bribery and abuse of power and subsequently sentenced to life in prison.

After fleeing China, Guo Wengui became an outspoken opponent of the Chinese Communist regime with a substantial internet presence. In 2017, he reportedly met Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon, and the two became close allies, often appearing together on Guo's internet channel. 

It is difficult to say what motivates anti-CCP Chinese and Chinese-Americans to support the American far right. It might be their hatred of everything that calls itself leftist, or that can be portrayed as such. In that case, it might resemble the attitude of Cuban-Americans, who overwhelmingly favour the Republican Party and Trump

But it is quite stunning that those who rail against Mao Zedong and allegedly support freedom, do not seem bothered by Trump's attempt to overthrow US democracy by unleashing a radicalized mob on the US Capitol; or by the far right culture war against peaceful minority groups; or Florida's policies against political opponents and dissent

Is it a case of willful ignorance? Effective propaganda? Or simply a personal quest for vengeance?  


If you want to support me, visit my ko-fi profile, or take a look at some of my books on Amazon 

• Thornton, P. The New Cybersects. In: Perry, E. J., Selden, M. (2010) (Eds.). Chinese Society: Change, Conflict and Resistance. 


Popular posts from this blog

The Window Trick of Las Vegas Hotels

When I lived in Hong Kong I often passed by a residential apartment complex commonly known as the " monster building ".  " Interior of the Yick Cheong Building November 2016 " by  Nick-D  is licensed under  CC BY-SA 4.0 . _____

Living in Taiwan: Seven Reasons Why It's Good to Be Here

Chinese New Year can be a pretty boring time for a foreigner. All of my friends were celebrating with their families, and since I have no family here, nor have I a girlfriend whose family I could join, I had nothing special to do. Shops and cafes were closed - apart from big chains like McDonald's or Starbucks, which were overcrowded anyway. So I had a lot of time to think. On Saturday evening I went out to buy my dinner. While I was walking around, I heard the voices of the people inside their homes, the sounds of their New Year celebrations. Then I suddenly asked myself: "What on earth are you doing here? Why are you still in Taiwan?"  Before I came to Taiwan, some Taiwanese friends of mine had recommended me their country, highly prasing it and going so far as to say that Taiwan is a "paradise for foreigners" (bear in mind that when I say foreigners I mean 'Westerners').  "It's easy for foreigners to find a job," t

Is China's MINISO Copying Japan's MUJI, UNIQLO and Daiso?

Over the past few years Japanese retailers such as UNIQLO and MUJI have conquered foreign markets, opening shops in cities such as Paris, Berlin or New York and becoming household names in several countries. But the success of their business model seems to have inspired people with dubious intentions. As the website Daliulian recently showed, a new chain called MINISO, which claims to be a Japanese company selling ‘100% Japanese products’, seems to be nothing more than a knock-off of UNIQLO, MUJI and Daiso, copying their logos, names and even the layout of their stores. The company’s webpage proudly announces – in terrible English – that “ MINISO is a fast fashion designer brand of Japan. Headquartered in Tokyo Japan, Japanese young designer Miyake Jyunya is founder as well as the chief designer of MINISO, a pioneer in global 'Fashion & Casual Superior Products' field. ” According to the company’s homepage, MINISO advocates the philosophy of a simple,

Macau: Gambling, Corruption, Prostitution, and Fake Worlds

As I mentioned in my previous post , Macau has different faces and identities: there is the old Macau, full of colonial buildings and in which the pace of life seems to resemble a relaxed Mediterranean town rather than a bustling, hectic Chinese city, such as Hong Kong or Shanghai. On the other hand, there is the Macau of gambling, of gigantic hotel and casino resorts, and of prostitution. These two Macaus seem to be spatially separated from each other, with an intact colonial city centre and nice outskirts with small alleys on the one side, and bombastic, modern buildings on the other.  The Galaxy - one of the huge casino and hotel resorts The Importance of Gambling for Macau's Economy Dubbed the 'Monte Carlo of the East', Macau has often been portrayed as the gambling capital of China. Media reporting on Macau tend present pictures of the city's glistening, apparently luxurious skyline. But a visit in Macau suffices to realize that it is fa

Trip to Tainan

Tainan Train Station Last weekend I made a one day trip to the Southern Taiwanese city of Tainan (Chinese: 臺南, pinyin: Táinán), the former capital and one of the most important centres of culture, history and architecture of the island. This blog post is also intended as a special thank to Grace, a Taiwanese friend who was so kind to show me around, and very patient, too. Since Tainan doesn't have an extensive public transport net, Grace picked me up at the train station with her motorcycle, a vehicle that, along with cars, is regarded by locals as indispensable for living comfortably in Tainan. To my great embarrassment, though, I had to admit that I cannot ride a motorcycle. That's why we had to take busses to move around. It was the first time she ever took a bus in Tainan. And now I know why: busses come more or less every half an hour, and service stops early in the evening. No wonder Tainanese snob public transport. Grace had no idea about the routes and about whe