Trump Decides Not To Deport Wealthy Chinese Fugitive After Learning He’s a Mar-a-Lago Member
In June, Trump met with aides to discuss foreign policy toward China. He stunned the group by producing a letter forwarded to him by longtime friend and casino magnate Steve Wynn and saying that he was inclined to honor a China request for the extradition of Chinese fugitive Guo Wengui. Then something happened that made him change his mind.
According to a report published by Vanity Fair Wednesday, President Trump was reportedly on the verge of deporting billionaire Chinese fugitive Guo Wengui, but changed his mind after aides informed him that Guo is a fellow billionaire and a member in good standing at the president’s Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago.
Guo is wanted on charges of rape, bribery, and kidnapping in his native China and the Chinese government had sent a letter to President Trump demanding his extradition.
“The president subsequently changed his mind, exposing a secondary set of even more problematic biases. Apparently, Trump was more than happy to allow a wealthy friend to pressure him on foreign policy — until he was made aware of an even more pressing concern,” the possibility of losing a paying member of Mar-a-Lago.
Much like Trump, the international fugitive is a wealthy real-estate developer with a massive Twitter following and an intense interest in building and promoting his personal brand.
Guo built a real estate empire in Beijing, but fled China in 2014 after being informed that he was about to be arrested. Since then he has taunted the Chinese government on Twitter, telling sensational — and possibly apocryphal — stories about Chinese government corruption.
There is no extradition treaty between China and the U.S. — meaning Trump is not obligated to hand over criminals wanted in China. Guo bought a $67.5 million apartment overlooking Central Park in New York City.
In May, Chinese government operatives visited Guo at his apartment — in violation of their visa status.
“Entering the country on a visa that allows foreign government officials to travel through America en route to another destination without conducting official business,” Vanity Fair reporter Isobel Thompson writes. “They met Guo at his apartment and pressured him to return to China and drop his accusations.”
“The officials were nearly arrested at JFK airport, which could have sparked an international incident.”
Fearing that the handover would make the U.S. look weak and establish a dangerous precedent with foreign governments, aides tried to convince Trump not to fulfill China’s request. Their last resort was to inform Trump that Guo was a member of his Mar-a-Lago club. It worked.
Trump then decided not to honor China’s request.