Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui has over the last three months made accusations of corruption on China's elite on social media
Party officials have been preparing for their twice a decade Congress later this year. The major meeting is expected to firmly consolidate President Xi Jinping's grip on power by filling top leadership posts with his allies.
But Guo's verbal grenades have threatened to derail these carefully orchestrated plans, creating what political commentator Liang Jing has called the 'biggest Chinese political black swan of 2017'.
Guo's saga burst into view in April, when the billionaire sat for an interview with the US government-funded news outlet Voice of America (VOA) that was cut short amid accusations of pressure from Chinese embassy in Washington.
In the lead-up to Guo's VOA appearance, China announced it had requested a non-binding Interpol warrant for his arrest. An expose into Guo by the state-controlled Beijing News and a video of a former top spy chief confessing to accepting bribes from Guo appeared on YouTube around the same time.
Authorities have been seeking his arrest and put executives from a company linked to Guo on trial last week.
On 9 June, the former employees confessed in court to fraudulently obtaining loans at his direction.
Guo is also in legal trouble in the United States, where a lawyer announced this week that he faced a lawsuit by nine creditors demanding $50 million for outstanding debts.
HNA Group issued a statement on 10th June denying Guo's accusations that the conglomerate was partly owned by relatives of Wang Qishan, the powerful head of China's anti-corruption watchdog, who has acted as Xi's top enforcer.
The terse statement came almost two months after Guo first accused the company of an improper relationship with Wang, tipped to be the country's next premier.
That same day the Global Times, a Communist Party-controlled tabloid, published a lacerating editorial accusing Guo of 'political slander'.
Guo is not backing down, vowing to make more revelations in a press conference this autumn. The timing suggests he may want to influence the outcome of the upcoming party congress.
The unfolding battle poses a "conundrum" for China's politicians, said David Kelly, research director of Beijing-based consulting firm China Policy. "You cannot deal with him without revealing the power of informal politics," Kelly said. "How it plays out is too hard to predict," he said. But, he added, "it is really gloves off and it's to the death."