Courage vs. coddling with China
The women's professional tennis tour suspended tournaments in China Wednesday out of concern for Peng Shuai, on the same day that a top business voice made excuses for Beijing.
Why it matters: Ahead of February's Winter Olympics in Beijing, some sports figures are taking on the regime — while Big Business shrinks from confrontation with the world's second-largest economy.
What's happening: The Women's Tennis Association told AP that fears for the safety of Peng Shuai, the Chinese champion who accused a former Communist Party official of sexual assault, could result in cancellations beyond 2022.
- WTA President and CEO Steve Simon said: "This is ... about what’s right and wrong."
- In the NBA, the Boston Celtics' Enes Kanter, who changed his last name to "Freedom" this week after becoming a U.S. citizen, has used social media to relentlessly protest human-rights violations in China.
Contrast that with billionaire Ray Dalio — legendary investor and founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world's largest hedge fund — who told Andrew Ross Sorkin yesterday on CNBC's "Squawk Box" when asked about Peng Shuai and China's human rights issues:
- "I can't be an expert in those types of things," Dalio said. "I look to whatever the rules are."
- "So the guidance of the government is the most important thing."
Context: The Wall Street Journal, calling Dalio a "longtime China bull," reported Nov. 24 that Bridgewater raised $1.25 billion for its third investment fund in China, making it one of the "biggest foreign managers of private funds in the world’s second-largest economy."
Dalio added on CNBC: "I look at the United States and I say: '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?'"
- "I'm not trying to make political comparisons. I'm basically just trying to follow the rules."
When Sorkin pointed out that the U.S. "isn't disappearing people" like the Chinese government, Dalio replied: "As a top-down country ... they behave like a strict parent."
- "If I ... evaluated all approaches around the world in all countries, I'd be in a bind to try to find out ... where do I invest."
Go deeper: Axios reported this week that Airbnb has more than a dozen homes available for rent in China's Xinjiang region on land owned by an organization sanctioned by the U.S. government. Read the investigation.