BEIJING (Reuters) - A retired Chinese soccer star called for the ouster of China’s ruling Communist Party in a video released on Thursday on the YouTube channel of fugitive billionaire Guo Wengui, who is close with former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon.
Hao Haidong, 50, who was a major star in China during the 1990s and 2000s, and is known to have a residence in Spain, spoke in a 53-minute video interview. Thursday is the 31st anniversary of the crackdown on student protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
YouTube is blocked in China.
“I think the Chinese people should not be trampled upon by the Chinese Communist Party any more. I think this Communist Party should be kicked out of humanity. This is the conclusion I reached after 50 years of living,” he says in the video.
It was not clear where Hao was speaking from in the video, or in another on the same YouTube channel.
China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Hao, a prolific scorer who played for the Chinese national team more than 100 times, led China to its only World Cup finals appearance, in 2002.
He has been outspoken on social issues and has criticised the Chinese football establishment, earning him the nickname “Cannon Hao”, but had not previously spoken out against the Communist Party.
He appeared in the video with his wife, former badminton champion Ye Zhaoying.
On Wednesday, a group of propeller planes trailing banners that read “New Federal State of China” flew over New York, where Guo and Bannon, former adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, livestreamed from a boat, the New York Post reported. Guo is also known as Miles Kwok.
In another video, Hao read from a “declaration” of the “New Federal State of China.”
Hao’s Weibo account, which had more than 7 million followers, appeared to have been removed on Thursday afternoon from the Twitter-like platform. All entries on him on Zhihu, a popular question-and-answer website, had also been removed.
Hao started his career playing for the junior team of the People’s Liberation Army, rising to the rank of major.
Guo, who is wanted in China for financial crimes, left China in 2014 and has been using YouTube to accuse senior Chinese officials of wrongdoing.
Reporting by Yew Lun Tian: Editing by Tony Munroe and Neil Fullick