Letter to The Editor - Yan Limeng: Bannon’s new goal

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Disclaimer: The following is a Letter to the Editor which does not necessarily reflect the views of the New York and New Jersey Business Journal.

Best known as US President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon was never not a controversial figure. For example, he was removed from his National Security Council role in 2017, just months after he was appointed. Before, he served as the executive chairman at the much-criticized Breitbart News, a leading media organization in the alt-right movement and an advocate of the white supremacist.

He was arrested in New York on August 20, accused of using a crowdfunding project called “We Build A Wall” to defraud a large number of donors and enrich himself.

It’s not the first time he has been caught up in a scandal. He was the vice-chairman of the now-notorious Cambridge Analytica, which went bankrupt in 2018 after improperly stealing data from 50 million Facebook users.

Bannon’s profile shows a typical opportunist. Born and raised from a working-class company, he needed some unusual approached to climb the social ladder.

His efforts sustained until the eve of his arrest. This time, he chose Yan Limeng, a long-failed Chinese academic in Hong Kong, in an attempt to use the current COVID-19 outbreak to stir up trouble again.

Yan, former viral and immunology researcher at the Centre for Infectious Diseases at University of Hong Kong’s School of Public Health, arrived in the United States on April 29, 2020, under Bannon team’s arrangement, and gave an interview to Fox News on July 10. During the interview, she claimed that China delayed in making its domestic coronavirus outbreak public.

On July 28, Yan admitted through self-media “Lutheran” that she has communicated with Bannon twice before coming to the States. According to Yan, Bannon sent her more than a dozen reports and assigned her to put together a report detailing the timeline of the outbreak accordingly. She also claimed that Bannon would give her “homework assignments”.

Looking back at the time stamp when Yan accepted the interview, one will quickly find that her claims, which shifted the focus back to China, came right when a deteriorating coronavirus outbreak was sweeping through the US.

When the US public was getting increasingly dissatisfied with the administration’s COVID-19 response, Yan’s interview effectively diverted people’s attention and thus lifted the government’s pressure.

It is clear enough that someone associated with the administration has the intention of manipulating public opinion.

Such intention gets more noticeable when Steve Bannon, the controversial figure known for using unusual and maybe unlawful tactics to achieve success, was found related to the whole Yan’s case.

With Bannon isolated from the administration for quite some time, the case about Yan may serve as an opportunity for him to fulfill some personal interests — to get himself back to the inner circle of the administration.

Yan was a perfect figure for Bannon to achieve his goal. Born and raised in the Chinese mainland, Yan worked under a lot of pressure while feeling her dream unfulfilled.

She once told her classmates and friends that she hoped to have the opportunity to do some high-end research work in a laboratory in the United States, and “my words were full of yearning”. It was also rumored that she once suffered from depression and had a negative opinion of society.

It would be possible that her pursuit for a better life was identified and manipulated by the Bannon team — she would trade her publicly slandering China with more opportunities in the US.

But one could easily find faults in her claims. Simply put, how come a researcher, who routinely perform basic tasks in a lab, know in detail what was going on at the frontline of China’s fight against the COVID-19?

As for Bannon, throwing all blames on China is the best way to regain the president's trust and cover up his unlawful means accumulating wealth.

We should identify with sharp eyes such show he put up under such strong intention, and see it no different from a circus show.


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