Left-wing billionaire and political donor George Soros wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal on Monday in which he praised President Donald Trump’s policies toward China. He then urged Congress to maintain the president’s firm stand against Chinese telecom giant Huawei – overriding the White House if necessary, should Huawei become a bargaining chip in the larger trade war.
The leftist money man did not exactly shower Trump with praise in his op-ed. He portrayed Trump’s actions against China as the “greatest, and perhaps only, foreign policy accomplishment of the Trump administration.”
Soros, 89, lauded Trump’s policy as “coherent and genuinely bipartisan,” which necessitated ignoring a huge amount of Democrat partisan sniping at Trump’s position on China, coupled with fervent promises from most of the 2020 Democrat presidential field to undo those policies as quickly as possible if they win. Soros is one of the few prominent voices on the left to describe the trade war with China as anything but a disaster.
The U.S.-Hungarian businessman said the administration was correct to see Beijing as a “strategic rival” and treat Huawei as a “national security threat,” barred from doing business with American companies by the Commerce Department.
Citing China’s efforts to take the lead in artificial intelligence technology and 5G network, Soros predicted that “as long as Huawei remains on the [banned] entity list, it will lack crucial technology and be seriously weakened” because the Chinese firm remains highly dependent upon components obtained from American suppliers.
Soros explained his fierce opposition to China is based in large part on apprehension over the Chinese surveillance state and its “social credit system,” a means of enforcing Communist Party dogma by monitoring every aspect of public life and depriving citizens of crucial services if their citizenship and patriotism are found lacking.
“As founder of the Open Society Foundations, my interest in defeating Xi Jinping’s China goes beyond U.S. national interests. As I explained in a speech in Davos earlier this year, I believe that the social-credit system Beijing is building, if allowed to expand, could sound the death knell of open societies not only in China but also around the globe,” he warned.
Soros worried that President Trump will be tempted to make a trade deal with Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping that takes the pressure off Huawei. He pointed to the relief granted by the administration last year to another Chinese telecom company, ZTE, as an example of Trump caving under pressure.
“It’s hard to know exactly what’s motivating Mr. Trump, but he appears desperate for a deal with President Xi to bolster the U.S. stock market and economy to improve his chances at re-election – putting his electoral interests ahead of America’s interests,” he charged.
“Congress must prevent this from happening,” Soros insisted. “Mr. Trump’s own Defense Department and National Security Council recognize the grave threat Huawei poses. If Republicans allow Mr. Trump to bail out the Communist Party-run telecom giant, they will be abdicating their most basic democratic responsibilities.”
Although it does not seem to have reassured Soros, President Trump stated last week that he is not interested in discussing the Huawei ban with China at the moment, contradicting some previous statements that the company could be part of a grand bargain to end the trade war.
“It’s a national security concern. Huawei is a big concern of our military, of our intelligence agencies, and we are not doing business with Huawei,” Trump said. “We’ll see what happens with respect to China, but Huawei has not been a player that we want to discuss.”
Soros’ antipathy to China is not new. He made similar statements at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January, castigating Xi Jinping as “the most dangerous opponent of those who believe in the concept of open society.”
“The social credit system is not yet fully operational, but it’s clear where it’s heading. It will subordinate the fate of the individual to the interests of the one-party state in ways unprecedented in history,” he said at the time, advising the Trump administration to “crack down” on companies like Huawei and ZTE to prevent them from dominating the 5G networking market.
Soros had little praise for Trump at the World Economic Forum, depicting him as an equally stubborn obstacle to “open societies” as Xi Jinping.
“The reality is that we are in a Cold War that threatens to turn into a hot one. On the other hand, if Xi and Trump were no longer in power, an opportunity would present itself to develop greater cooperation between the two cyber superpowers,” he said.
The Chinese government breezily dismissed Soros’ criticism in January, calling his remarks “meaningless and not worth refuting.”
“We hope the relevant American can correct his attitude, not be short-sighted, and hold an objective, rational and correct opinion of China’s development,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, pointedly refusing to use Soros’ name.