Well, I never really thought I’d see the day when George Soros said something that I totally agreed with, but that day has come. I’m not saying that Soros is a nice guy or that the endless stream of money he spends on things like electing progressive district attorneys has not been bad news for many American cities. But the article he wrote on China for the Wall Street Journal is worth reading.
Soros says in his third paragraph that the United States may head to war because of Xi Jinping’s determination that China become the dominant power in the world.
Relations between China and the United States are deteriorating rapidly and may lead to war. Mr. Xi has made it clear that he intends to take possession of Taiwan in the next decade, and consequently, he is increasing China’s military capabilities …
I consider Mr. Xi the most dangerous enemy of open societies in the world. The Chinese people as a whole are among their victims, but national political opponents and religious and ethnic minorities suffer much more from their persecution …
He is intensely nationalist and wants China to become the dominant power in the world. He is also convinced that the Communist Party of China must be a Leninist party, ready to use its political and military power to impose its will.
But Soros believes that Xi may have already set in motion his own eventual failure. To stay in power, he will have to extend his term beyond the 2022 term limit that has guided China’s two previous rulers. And to do that, he needs to tighten his grip on rival power centers, particularly those with enough financial power to feel like they can openly oppose him.
I wrote earlier about what happens to Chinese billionaires who speak critically about Xi Jinping. They disappear, as anyone else would. Ren Zhiqiang, a 69-year-old billionaire, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for an article calling 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 that her disappearance was self-imposed, probably in an effort to avoid ending 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 in doing so, Xi is in danger of killing the goose that laid the golden eggs.
Mr. Xi is involved in a systematic campaign to eliminate 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 was persuaded to “donate” most of his wealth to charity.
This campaign threatens to destroy the geese that lay the golden eggs. Mr. Xi is determined to bring wealth creators under the control of the one-party state. It has reintroduced a dual management structure in large privately owned companies that largely expired during Deng’s reform era. Now, private and state companies are led not only by their leadership, but also by a party representative who ranks higher than the president of the company. This creates a perverse incentive not to innovate but to wait for instructions from higher authorities.
In short, Soros believes that Chinese Marxism under Xi Jinping is headed for failure because it undermines markets in favor of party control. You can have independent companies that know your business and respond quickly to market forces, or you can have the party apparatus tell everyone what to do, but you probably can’t have both.
Finally, in the system Xi is now following, the ultimate good is to obey and not disappoint the beloved leader. As Soros says, Xi is creating a group of yes men, none of whom dare to criticize him no matter what he does or the outcome of his decisions. And that’s a recipe for disaster.
As much as I am not yet a fan of George Soros, I think he is convinced that Xi Jinping is the greatest threat to freedom in the world. I sincerely hope you are right about China’s inevitable failure under Marxist tyranny, but it is somewhat stressful to watch how it unfolds.