Well, I really never thought I’d see the day when George Soros said something I wholeheartedly agreed with but that day has arrived. I’m not saying Soros is a good guy or that the endless stream of money he pours into things like electing progressive district attorneys hasn’t been very bad news for a lot of American cities. But the piece he wrote about China for the Wall Street Journal is absolutely worth reading.
Soros says in his third paragraph that the US may be headed to war because of Xi Jinping’s determination to see China become the dominant power in the world.
Relations between China and the U.S. are rapidly deteriorating and may lead to war. Mr. Xi has made clear that he intends to take possession of Taiwan within the next decade, and he is increasing China’s military capacity accordingly…
I consider Mr. Xi the most dangerous enemy of open societies in the world. The Chinese people as a whole are among his victims, but domestic political opponents and religious and ethnic minorities suffer from his persecution much more…
He is intensely nationalistic and he wants China to become the dominant power in the world. He is also convinced that the Chinese Communist Party needs to be a Leninist party, willing to use its political and military power to impose its will.
But Soros believes Xi may have already set in motion his own eventual failure. In order to remain in power, he will have to extend his rule beyond a 2022 term limit that has guided China’s two previous rulers. And in order to do that, he needs to tighten his control over rival centers of power, particularly those with enough financial might to feel they can openly oppose him.
I written before about what happens to Chinese billionaires who speak critically of Xi Jinping. They disappear, just like anyone else would. Ren Zhiqiang, a 69-year-old billionaire, was sentenced to 18-years in prison for an article that called Xi a “clown.” Billionaire Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, also briefly disappeared earlier this year after criticizing China’s regulatory system. In Ma’s case it appears his disappearance was self-imposed, probably in an effort to avoid winding up in prison.
Soros says this is all part of Xi’s plan to centralize power by limiting the independent power created by capitalism. But by doing so Xi is in danger of killing the goose that laid the golden eggs.
Mr. Xi is engaged in a systematic campaign to remove or neutralize people who have amassed a fortune. His latest victim is Sun Dawu, a billionaire pig farmer. Mr. Sun has been sentenced to 18 years in prison and persuaded to “donate” the bulk of his wealth to charity.
This campaign threatens to destroy the geese that lay the golden eggs. Mr. Xi is determined to bring the creators of wealth under the control of the one-party state. He has reintroduced a dual-management structure into large privately owned companies that had largely lapsed during the reform era of Deng. Now private and state-owned companies are being run not only by their management but also a party representative who ranks higher than the company president. This creates a perverse incentive not to innovate but to await instructions from higher authorities.
In short, Soros believes Chinese Marxism under Xi Jinping is headed for failure because it undermines markets in favor of party control. You can either have independent companies that know their business and respond swiftly to market forces or you can have party apparatchiks telling everyone what to do, but you probably can’t have both.
Finally, in the system Xi is now pursuing, the ultimate good is to obey and not disappoint the dear leader. As Soros puts it, Xi is creating a party of yes men, none of whom dare to criticize him regardless of what he does or the outcome of his decisions. And that is a recipe for disaster.
As much as I’m still not a fan of George Soros, I think he’s dead on about Xi Jinping being the biggest threat to freedom in the world. I sincerely hope he’s right about China’s inevitable failure under Marxist tyranny but it’s a nerve-racking thing to watch play out.