Who Bought Whom?

June 16, 2021 Updated: June 17, 2021

Commentary

The Reuters headline said: “BlackRock expands footprint with wealth management in China.” It should have said: “Beijing Gets a Chokehold on BlackRock and Its CEO Larry Fink.”

Reuters was reporting the superficial fact that the financial authorities of China gave permission last week to BlackRock (a major Wall Street investment fund) to operate a wealth management company in China in which it owned a majority share. This was described in glowing terms as a giant step forward for the fund, which would be able to start managing the huge, accrued savings of China’s families and billionaires.

Indeed, there may be some truth in that. BlackRock may well make some additional money from its business in China. But the far more important news wasn’t reported. It was that BlackRock CEO Larry Fink had just been taken completely hostage by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

As one of the world’s leading investors, he will no doubt further enrich wealthy Chinese. In this way, as well as by paying taxes to the Chinese regime, he will support and further strengthen the CCP. Fink didn’t blink at lending this support in the face of China’s suppression of the human rights of its Uyghur minority in Xinjiang, or of its overthrow of the rule of law and free speech in Hong Kong, or of its continuing threats to invade Taiwan if the present government of Taiwan doesn’t agree to merge the island into the governance system of mainland China.

For Fink, it’s all about the money and making it however you can by hook or by crook. Nor is Fink alone in this attitude. Recently, Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of Wall Street’s Blackstone Group, and Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates (another U.S. investment firm), scurried to attend a major investment conference in China just as Beijing was clamping down on Xinjiang and Hong Kong. Indeed, ironically, Beijing was jailing Hong Kong billionaire and newspaper mogul Jimmy Lai for demonstrating in favor of free elections in Hong Kong at the same time. But none of this deterred Dalio from telling The Washington Post and other major U.S. news organizations what a wonderful place China is and how the future of the world is now being previewed by it.

Proudly independent and outspoken in the United States, these icons of American capitalism were oh so very careful to touch their heads to the ground in the formal kowtow before the throne of the CCP in Beijing. For these billionaires, it seems always to be all about the money. No doubt that explains why they are billionaires.

But it also tells us something more significant. They are and will be agents of Beijing in the United States. They may formally be the heads of U.S. corporations and they may live in the United States, but they will sing the song of Beijing in Washington and elsewhere in America. They will oppose any effort by President Joe Biden to reduce U.S. dependence on China or to resist China’s human rights and trade practices. They will be a second voice of Beijing emanating from within the United States.

Clyde Prestowitz is an Asia and globalization expert, a veteran U.S. trade negotiator, and a presidential adviser. He was the leader of the first U.S. trade mission to China in 1982 and has served as an adviser to Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. As counselor to the secretary of commerce in the Reagan administration, Mr. Prestowitz headed negotiations with Japan, South Korea, and China. Mr. Prestowitz’s newest book is “The World Turned Upside Down: China, America and the Struggle for Global Leadership,” published in January 2021. 

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.