A Richmond man has apologized for his assault on a Surrey man, following the realization he became brainwashed by online conspiracy theories of Chinese political dissidents.
Shiliang Yin, 33, apologized on Friday to political and human rights activist Louis Huang for assaulting him on Nov. 25, 2020, outside the Surrey home of Bingchen Gao, the site of a bizarre and ongoing protest against Gao, a blogger of Chinese politics.
Yin pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm in B.C. Provincial Court on Oct. 22, 2021.
Yin was then a member of the activist group New Federal State of China (NFSC), founded by Guo Wengui, also known as Miles Kwok, an exiled Chinese billionaire living in the United States, who appears outwardly critical of the Chinese government but also faces allegations of bribery, money laundering and kidnapping back in China.
The NFSC lodged public protests in Gao’s cul-de-sac for months in 2020. The group claims Gao is a spy for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and his criticisms of corruption in the Chinese Communist Party on his social media channels are a cover.
Yin now claims he was paid $50,000 by Guo to organize protests against Gao and received direction within the group to be physically violent. The protests began in September 2020 and provoked nuisance complaints by neighbours. Rain or shine, people with NFSC signs walked around Gao’s cul-de-sac. Yin says each protester was paid $200.
Yin claimed Guo said he would cover his legal bills. When this didn’t happen, Yin says he realized the tale of Gao being a spy is not true.
“Today, I came to a place that makes me ashamed and guilty,” he said. “I was brainwashed,” he added.
On Jan. 13, Reuters reported a Connecticut court ruling, as part of Guo’s bankruptcy proceedings, orders Guo or his agents from protesting outside the homes of people involved in his case. Guo has disputed the claims; however, the judge ruled Guo "supports, encourages, and is the leader of a social media and protest campaign targeting the plaintiffs, their counsel, and their relatives, at personal homes and workplaces," including allegations they too are puppets of the CCP.
His lawyers in the bankruptcy case have not responded to Glacier Media.
Huang said he believes it is Guo who is attempting to derail true CCP dissidents in an attempt to curry favour with the CCP. Chinese politics and propaganda observer and democracy activist Ivy Li says it is likely a tactic of the protest group to confuse and alienate the general public from actual anti-CCP movements.
Yin now says he never had evidence that Gao is a CCP spy.
“I acknowledge that the slander we have done has not only hurt the victims, but also damaged the image of overseas Chinese,” said Yin, who is a Canadian citizen who emigrated from China in 2008 and works in computer programming.
Asked how he came to meet Guo, Yin said it was via online chat groups. He said he still opposes the CCP but has no specific political thoughts at this time, although he maintains the COVID-19 pandemic is the party’s fault.
Gao, meanwhile, continues to blog and appeared with Huang outside his home to accept Yin’s apologies.
Gao’s blogs have been critical of present-day corruption within the CCP, but not necessarily Chinese socialism, or Maoism. When previously asked why that was so, Gao explained to Glacier Media that his work had to be discerning so as to not be banned entirely from China.