It didn't take China long to respond to George Soros after he went nuclear on Beijing and US investment titans abandoning their "ESG ideals" to capitalize on China's massive market.
Over the weekend, China’s state-run tabloid Global Times labeled George Soros a “global economic terrorist” in a tit for tat exchange playing out in dueling op-eds that underscore the rising temperature in US-China relations, the Standard and Asia Times reported.
The article, published on September 4, accused the billionaire hedge fund manager and liberal donor and Democrat supporter of providing finance to Hong Kong’s jailed newspaper owner Jimmy Lai to support the city’s anti-Beijing protests in 2019.
Soon thereafter, Soros penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal that said New York-based BlackRock’s recent $1 billion mutual fund investment in China was a “tragic mistake” and would lose money for the asset manager’s clients. Soros wrote the BlackRock investment “imperils the national security interests of the US.” That followed an August 30 op-ed Soros published in the Financial Times that said Chinese President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on private enterprise has been “a significant drag on the Chinese economy” and “could lead to a crash.”
Soros said indices such as MSCI’s ACWI, ESG Leaders Index and BlackRock’s ESG Aware, have “effectively forced hundreds of billions of dollars belonging to US investors into Chinese companies whose corporate governance does not meet the required standard — power and accountability is now exercised by one man (Xi) who is not accountable to any international authority.”
The billionaire urged the US Congress to pass legislation limiting asset managers’ investments to “companies where actual governance structures are both transparent and aligned with stakeholders.” Previous reports said that Soros’ hedge fund had disposed all of its exposure to Chinese assets earlier this year.
Having made a name (and $1.1 billion ) for breaking the Bank of England in 1992, during the Asian financial crisis in 1997, Soros also tried to break the Hong Kong dollar’s peg to the US dollar but was ultimately defeated by the Hong Kong government, which intervened heavily in markets to protect the peg. Soros was given the nickname “financial crocodile” by local media at the time.
In September 2001, Soros was invited to visit China and met then Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji in Beijing. But after the 2008 global financial crisis, Soros told media in October 2009 that China should step up to the plate as the leader of a new global economic order.
Then, in January 2016, Soros told a dinner audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos that “a hard landing is practically unavoidable” for the Chinese economy. A few days later, the People’s Daily, China’s Communist Party mouthpiece, warned that “Soros’s war on the renminbi and the Hong Kong dollar cannot possibly succeed – about this there can be no doubt.”
In January 2019, Soros said Chinese President Xi Jinping was “the most dangerous enemy” of free societies for presiding over a high-tech surveillance regime. He said, “China is not the only authoritarian regime in the world but it is the wealthiest, strongest and technologically most advanced.” He also said China’s ZTE and Huawei telecom giants should not be allowed to dominate the world’s 5G infrastructure rollout.
But the Global Times’ “economic terrorist” label is a new escalation in the feud between the two.
The Global Times’ commentary, titled “This global economic terrorist is staring at China!”, claimed Soros only started to criticize China because he felt regret after disposing all his investments in Tencent Music, Baidu and Vishop earlier this year.
The article added that his Open Society Foundations financed Human Rights Watch, which it claimed spreads “rumors” against China over recent matters in Hong Kong and Xinjiang as well as the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Global Times commentary also claimed Soros had colluded with Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai to try to start a “color revolution” in Hong Kong in 2019. It also described Soros as “the most evil person in the world” and “the son of Satan.”
This is not the first time a sovereign country has slammed Soros as "satan": several years ago his native Hungary said George Soros is “Satan" and his agenda is one that “from its heart hates Christian Europe’s traditions and civilization.”
In a speech entititled “The Christian duty to fight against the Satan/Soros Plan,” András Aradszki, the government’s secretary of state for energy, framed his ruling party’s long running campaign against Soros for the first time in explicitly theological terms.
Linking Soros to “abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, and the forced politicization of gender theory,” Aradszki declared from the floor of Hungary’s parliament Sunday, “The Soros mercenaries do not cite the Holy Father’s thoughts on this.”
He added: “Soros and his comrades want to destroy the independence and values of nation states for the purpose of watering down the Christian spirit of Europe.”
Citing an alleged plan by Soros for to forcibly settle “tens of millions of migrants” in Europe, Aradszki declared, “The fight against Satan is a Christian duty. Yes, I speak of an attack by Satan, who is also the angel of denial, because they are denying what they are preparing to do — even when it is completely obvious.”
Going back to China, AsiaTimes reports that the Global Times article was widely republished by mainland websites and cited by Hong Kong and Taiwanese media over the past few days.
The Global Times was not finished, and in a separate op-ed, the Global Times wrote that:
"George Soros, who is despised by many around the world for triggering and profiting from crises, started a fresh campaign against China's economy over the country's recent regulatory actions. But like his repeatedly failures and massive losses in betting against the world's second-largest economy before, Soros' latest attempt is not only doomed to fail but will also erase any credibility he still has when it comes to China."
The Global Times was also concerned by Soros' criticism of BlackRock’s massive new investment in China and Xi’s regulatory clampdown, however it had little to worry about: when it comes to China, Larry Fink's ideals are just as flexible as the Fed's mandate for how many bonds and ETFs the asset management giant should buy on its behalf.
In April 2021, BlackRock Chairman Larry Fink wrote in a letter to shareholders that “the Chinese market represents a significant opportunity to help meet the long-term goals of investors in China and internationally” and provides the company an opportunity to help address the challenge of retirement for millions of people in China.
“As China’s capital markets continue to open to foreign firms, BlackRock has taken meaningful actions to expand our onshore presence and respond to the needs of our clients,” Fink said. Last August, China approved a wealth management joint venture between BlackRock, Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings and China Construction Bank. In May this year, the joint venture, which is 50.1% owned by Blackrock, 40% by CCB and 9.9% by Temasek, was granted a license by Chinese regulators.
So far Soros' attempts to hinder US investments in China by asset management giants have been met with scorn and mockery.