Billionaire investor defends his human rights comment comparing Chinese government to 'strict parent'

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Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio is downplaying comments he made during a recent CNBC interview that seemed to dismiss the alleged human rights abuses in China.

China as a “strict parent”: The billionaire hedge fund manager drew online backlash last Tuesday after responding to a question about his China investments on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” last week, reported Bloomberg.

  • “I look to whatever the rules are. If the government has a policy that I should do a certain thing and so on, but I can’t be an expert in all of those particular dynamics,” Dalio told host Andrew Ross Sorkin. “As a top-down country what they are doing is … they behave like a strict parent.”

  • He then went on to compare it to investing in the U.S.: “Well, what’s going on in the United States? And should I not invest in the United States because of our own human-rights issues, or other things?”

  • In an op-ed, members of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board called out Dalio for his “tone-deaf” comments that allegedly reflect “why so many Americans dislike Wall Street.”

  • In a tweet, Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said Dalio exhibited a moral lapse in his “feigned ignorance of China’s horrific abuses and rationalization of complicit investments.”

A clarification: In response to the mounting negative reactions, the 72-year-old investor wrote a series of tweets on Sunday in an attempt to rectify his interview responses, which he claims have “created a misunderstanding.”

  • “I assure you that I didn’t mean to convey that human rights aren’t important because I certainly believe they are,“ Dalio wrote. “And I didn’t mean to convey that the US and China deal with these issues similarly because they certainly don’t.”

  • According to Dalio, he was merely explaining “how Confucianism is based on the family and that extends into their governance, which is a more autocratic approach that is like a strict parent. I was not expressing my own opinion or endorsing that approach.”

  • He further wrote that his answer caused confusion for failing to differentiate between “understanding and agreeing.”

Bridgewater has made notable investments in China, including the $1.25 billion it raised for its investment fund in the country in the last quarter alone, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Featured Image via Bridgewater Associates

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