Ray Dalio admires China’s push for “common prosperity” and thinks the U.S. should adopt a similar approach.
The founder of the $150 billion investment firm Bridgewater Associates praised China’s crackdown on and individuals and businesses from video games, to property development, to test preparation as part of a campaign to more broadly distribute the gains of China’s growth over the past two decades.
“As Deng Xiaoping and others understood, it’s a cycle,” Dalio said at a UBS Group investment conference Monday, according to the Wall Street Journal. “First you get rich, and then you make a point of distributing those opportunities in a more equal way.”
Critics see the treatment of Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba who recently all-but vanished from the public eye, and the crackdown on some of China’s more high-flying businesses as part of a campaign to consolidate power by dictator Xi Jinping and the Communist Party he controls.
“I think a lot of people… tend to make a mistake of thinking that this is like a return to communism under Mao, rather than understanding it’s just part of the evolutionary process,” Reuters reports Dalio said. “I think the United States through its own system needs more common prosperity and a lot of countries do.”
Dalio, a longtime advocate of investing in China, denied that the Communist leaders were “showing their true anticapitalist stripes.”
That echoed the message from China Vice Premier Liu He, Xi’s top economic aide who led China’s trade talks with the Biden administration last year. He said that China’s economic policies supporting the private sector had not changed “and will not change in the future.” The following day, the People’s Daily, China’s state-controlled newspaper, ran a front-page editorial with the same message.
“Opening to the outside world is China’s basic national policy, and it will not waver at any time,” the editorial said.
“Common prosperity is a good thing,” Dalio said, adopting the Communist interpretation of the economic crackdown. “It’s another way of saying prosperity for most people.”
Similar ideas have appeared frequently in the People’s Daily and the Global Times, the Chinese Communist party-controlled newspaper. That paper’s longtime editor recently retired, creating an opening for a skilled propagandist willing to tout the party line. The position likely pays substantially less than the $2 billion Dalio is said to have received in compensation in 2018.
Dalio is reportedly worth over $18 billion, making him one of the wealthiest people in the world.
Dalio discussed the crackdown as if it were broadening access to the Chinese economy’s benefits rather than centralizing power. Xi’s reforms were going to “create a fairer system,” Dalio claimed without evidence.
“You don’t know where the top talent is going to come from. It’s just as likely to come from poor people, disadvantaged people as it is from the most superbly groomed people,” Dalio said, according to Bloomberg News. “So you draw upon that talent, and you make a better economy more prosperous and you create a fairer system.”
China is currently imprisoning hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Muslims – mostly Uyghurs, but also members of the Kazakh and Kyrgyz communities – in concentration camps in Xinjiang. Survivors of the concentration camps say they have been subjected to torture, indoctrination, gang rape, and slavery at the camps. The slaves are unlikely to benefit from this so-called “common prosperity.”
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