Soros, the progressive billionaire, seemed unlikely, at best, to be sharing the screen in a Hoover virtual event. He’s invested millions to elect progressive district attorneys such as George Gascon in Los Angeles and Chesa Boudin in San Francisco (who is facing a recall election in June).
It was no joke so I zoomed in on Monday to hear Soros’s remarks as well as comments from Hoover fellows. Soros started by comparing China’s propaganda goals with the Winter Olympics as similar to Nazi Germany’s in the 1936 Berlin Olympics that were dominated by Black American Jesse Owens winning four gold medals.
Soros pointed out that this was a pivotal time for China because ruler Xi Jinping faces numerous key challenges in addition to his public commitment to take back Taiwan by force if necessary. The increasing belligerence there, Soros said, could be offset by the United States partnering with other democracies to make it clear that China would pay a heavy price. Japan is the most notable country committed to defending Taiwan.
Jinping has focused on regaining Chinese Community Party control over the economy and companies that had been allowed to function in the private sector, undoing the work of his predecessor. That, combined with China’s increasing capability in Artificial Intelligence, has resulted in a surveillance system that monitors its own people. He said that many Chinese didn’t like that, but could not speak out publicly—witness how dissidents and street protests in Hong Kong were subdued. Soros said that Jinping is a hard-core communist whose heroes are Lenin and Mao Zedong. His policies are based on two words—“total control.”
That said, he faces huge challenges because the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine is specific for the original virus and not effective against the much more infectious Omicron. That leaves total lockdowns and an Olympic bubble as the only options and they won’t work based on the Hong Kong experience.
In addition, the real estate bubble is poised to pop and there’s a huge demographic challenge based on decades of the one-child limitation that since has been reversed. The government now is encouraging multiple kids. Soros said that the official population count is about 130 million too high. Jinping controls the military, the communications and other institutions so he can exert control until some of his fellow elites can no longer tolerate him.
Soros said that the second quarter this year will determine whether China and Jinping can survive the real estate mess and this year will determine whether he succeeds in becoming leader for life.