Football star Hao Haidong accuses Beijing of heinous crimes, and is scrubbed by China’s media
China’s greatest footballer has become a “non-person” overnight after denouncing the Communist Party and calling for regime change.
Hao Haidong, 50, the country’s record goal scorer, who played briefly for Sheffield United and who now lives in Spain, appeared in a five-minute video on YouTube on Thursday in which he read out a declaration of the “Federal State of China” and demanded an end to communist rule.
“The Chinese Communist Party is a terrorist organisation funded by the Communist International, which has subverted the legitimate Chinese government in the past,” Hao declared in the video, released on the eve of the 31st anniversary of Beijing’s crackdown of the pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square.
“Totalitarian rule in China has caused horrific atrocities against humanity, total disregard for human rights, the destruction of humanity, trampled all over democracy, violated the rule of law, dishonoured lawful agreements, caused great bloodshed in Hong Kong and exported corruption across the globe,” he said.
“The crimes it has committed are too heinous to be tolerated! The elimination of the Chinese Communist Party is essential in breaking the shackles of slavery imposed on the Chinese people, and also in bringing about peace to the world. The New Federal State of China, as a country without the Chinese Communist Party, will be able to fulfil the needs of all Chinese people as well as ensure the prosperity of the world.”
He touched on sensitive topics, urging genuine autonomy for Hong Kong, Tibet and Taiwan, and accused Beijing of waging biological warfare on the world with the coronavirus pandemic, without providing any evidence.
Moments after the video was posted online Hao lost his account on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, which had more than seven million followers. The account of his glamorous wife, Ye Zhaoying, a two-time badminton world champion, was also closed.
The country’s main sports news sites immediately removed all articles about the couple, and one popular sports newspaper issued a statement condemning his “damaging of national sovereignty” and vowing never to report on him again.
It referred to Hao only by the first letter of his surname.
A search of Chinese sites yielded few hits or none at all of his name as censors cleansed the internet of his presence.
Cannon Hao, as he is known, was in the squad that made China’s only World Cup appearance, in 2002. They left the tournament without scoring a goal in three games. He still holds the national scoring record with 41 goals in more than 100 appearances for China and is also the top scorer in the domestic league, with 96 goals.
He is known and loved by his fans as an outspoken critic of the sports establishment but this is the first time he has ventured into the political realm.
His video was posted on the YouTube channel of Guo Wengui, the Chinese billionaire who fled the country amid allegations of financial misdeeds. Mr Guo is a friend of Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, and became a self-proclaimed whistleblower with unsubstantiated claims against the Chinese leadership.
In the video Hao credited Mr Guo and Mr Bannon with exposing “the illegitimacy and true evil nature of the Chinese Communist Party”.
The two men paid for planes to fly around the Statue of Liberty this week trailing banners hailing the new federal state of China, in both English and Chinese.