Hong Kong People Association

Financier claims to be victim of Chinese 'dirty tricks' due to supporting democracy

10/08/22 11:49 PM

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This article was published originally on Telegraph.co.uk on October 8th, 2022.

A British-based multi-millionaire businessman claims to have been targeted with a “dirty tricks” campaign of smears, cyber attacks and harassment orchestrated by China because of his support for democracy in Hong Kong. 

William Je, who set up his own finance company in the UK after leaving Hong Kong, says it has suffered multiple state-backed cyber attacks including one that saw 40 million hits in the space of 30 seconds, the bulk emanating from China. 

Mr Je, who also established a charity to help Hong Kongers escape the Chinese authorities, claims he and his staff have been targeted online with their names and photos circulated in posts on social media platforms accompanied by both personal and professional abuse. 

A dossier of the “dirty tricks” compiled by his legal and security team also includes evidence of attempts to damage his business by making false claims against it to regulators as he sought to expand into new overseas markets. 

Last year he was forced to call in police to investigate incidents of vandalism and suspicious behaviour by men around his house. He now employs a team of six security staff to provide 24/7 protection for him, his wife and two young children. 

Mr Je, who once held a senior position as the member of an advisory body to the Chinese Government before he left Hong Kong, said: “It's doubly galling for them to see someone who was, as it were, one of their own, now advocating freedom and democracy.” 

He said he feared for his family still in Hong Kong. “There have been many cases where they intimidate people by threats, arrests and kidnap in order to exert pressure and hold someone to ransom or persecute them,” he said.

Mr Je said he has suffered multiple state-backed cyber attacks | CREDIT: Jeff Gilbert.

“This is the way the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) works. Anyone who stands up for human rights and freedom, who is from Hong Kong or China, and does not follow the ideals of the CCP, are likely to be the subject to false allegations, bullying, harassment and persecution.” 

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, co-chair of the inter-parliamentary alliance on China, said: “The Government must now act on foreign powers who attack people within the UK. 

“I say this as someone who has been sanctioned by the Chinese and has been under attack myself from agents of the Chinese Government. The UK Government must now get on and make it clear to the Chinese that any such behaviour will lead to sanctions.” 

Mr Duncan Smith disclosed he had fallen victim to a Chinese so-called cyber “wolf warrior” who impersonated him in fake emails to leading political figures around the world claiming that he had changed his stance on China. 

Mr Je, who graduated from the University of Wales and Manchester Business School with a masters, worked at blue chip banks in Hong Kong, including heading up equity capital markets for Macquarie banking group for 10 years before deciding it was unsafe for his family to remain amid kidnappings and arrests of lawyers and publishers. 

He had been a member of the elite Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which advises the Chinese Government, but, quoting a Chinese saying, he said: “The more you know them, the more you would like to leave them.” 

He came to Britain four years ago and, using his financial expertise, launched Himalaya Exchange - a blockchain technology service designed to give people financial freedom - on November 1 2021. He now employs 200 people in London, including 50 Hong Kongers, and 100 more worldwide. 

But two days after the launch, Himalaya’s website suffered two huge cyber attacks, which his security team identified as being sourced from China. The largest “denial of service” attack - designed to overwhelm the website with fake traffic - generated 39.78 million requests over 30 minutes. 

Mr Je claimed staff have been intimidated with their images and personal details shared on twitter and labelled as “being part of a criminal organisation.” Social media bots and pages have encouraged people to make false complaints to regulators against the exchange, even including instructional videos on how to do it. 

He said it was a standard tactic by the Chinese Communist Party to discredit and damage the reputation of companies - as was the submission of “malicious” complaints to regulators. This started with the regulator in British Columbia in Canada and was repeated in New Zealand and the Bahamas. 

“Normally if people complain, they complain first to the company, then go to the regulators. Instead, these people go straight to the regulator, who comes to ask us a lot of questions and then finds out they are all fake complaints,” said Mr Je. 

His most unsettling experience came after he gave an interview to a TV station in March last year in which he criticised China’s approach to Taiwan. In the early hours of the following morning, his house was vandalised and rotten eggs thrown at its windows. 

The following month a man was seen standing directly outside his house on a quiet residential street, staring into his home. Both incidents were investigated by police, but remain unsolved. They are all the more unsettling because Mr Je came to Britain in search of security and a free democracy. 

“The reason why I moved to the UK is for the family. I didn’t think Hong Kong was a safe place any more,” he said. Now, however, he is braced for a sustained campaign.  

“I have been given information from parties, whom I cannot name, that the CCP intend to ramp up their attacks on me in a major way,” he said. 

By Charles Hymas, HOME AFFAIRS EDITOR, Telegraph UK

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