Billionaire investor Ray Dalio has become the latest high-profile Wall Street figure to become embroiled in controversy over comments about China. Mr Dalio took to social media at the weekend to say comments he made in a TV interview had been misunderstood.
It came after he compared China to a “strict parent” when asked last week about the disappearance of dissidents. Last month, JP Morgan boss Jamie Dimon apologised after saying his firm would outlast China’s Communist Party.
The founder of Bridgewater Associates – which is largest hedge fund in the world – said in a Twitter thread and LinkedIn post that he had “sloppily answered a question about China”.
In the posts, he went on to say that he did not mean to downplay the importance of human rights issues but was “attempting to explain” the Chinese approach to governing as an extension of Confucian ideas about family.
“I assure you that I didn’t mean to convey that human rights aren’t important because I certainly believe they are… My overriding objective is to help understanding,” the post continued.
After Mr Dalio’s original comments, he was criticised by Republican senator Mitt Romney, who accused him of feigning “ignorance of China’s horrific abuses and rationalization of complicit investments there” and that it was “a sad moral lapse.”
In November, JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon said he regretted saying that his Wall Street bank would be around longer than the Chinese Communist Party. The comment, made at a US event, sparked anger in China, with experts warning that it could jeopardize the bank’s ambitions in the the world’s second largest economy.
Mr Dimon made his original remarks at Boston College, where he was taking part in a series of interviews with chief executives. “I made a joke the other day that the Communist Party is celebrating its 100th year – so is JPMorgan,” he said.
“I’d make a bet that we last longer,” he told the event. “I can’t say that in China. They are probably listening anyway,” he added.
It sparked a swift reaction, with Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the state-backed Global Times newspaper, saying on twitter: “Think long-term! And I bet the CPC [Chinese Communist Party] will outlast the USA.”
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a news conference: “Why the publicity stunt with some grandstanding remarks?” In August, JP Morgan won approval to become the first full foreign owner of a securities brokerage in China.