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Michael Bloomberg Apologized After Boris Johnson Called China A "Coercive Autocracy."
Should the chair of President Biden's Defense Innovation Board be appeasing the Chinese government?
Last month, at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore, billionaire Michael Bloomberg issued an apology to any members of his audience who “were upset and concerned” with remarks made by former British prime minister Boris Johnson about the Chinese government.
As The Guardian reports:
The former UK prime minister, the after-dinner speaker at the flagship Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore on Tuesday, was said to have described China as a “coercive autocracy” to about 500 Asian businesspeople, investors and diplomats.
Later in the week, Bloomberg apologized to attendees, which included Chinese vice president Wang Qishan and other Chinese business leaders:
Bloomberg, who invited Johnson and whose organisation was hosting the event in partnership with the Singapore government, acknowledged at the conference on Thursday that some attendees may have been “insulted or offended” by Johnson’s remarks.
But the businessman, a former mayor of New York and friend of Johnson, clarified that they were “his thoughts and his thoughts alone”. He added: “To those of you who were upset and concerned by what the speaker said, you have my apologies.”
Johnson also reportedly told the audience:
“Let’s look at Russia and China. The two former communist tyrannies in which power has once again been concentrated in the hands of a single ruler. Two monocultural states that have been traditionally hostile to immigration and that are becoming increasingly nationalist in their attitudes.
“Two permanent UN security council members that back each other up and enable each other and which are willing to show a candid disregard for the rule of international law, and two countries that in the last year have demonstrated the immense limitations of their political systems by the disastrous mistakes they have made.”
But Bloomberg’s rush to apologize doesn’t come as a surprise as the billionaire has a history of praising the Chinese government. In 2019, as reported by the Washington Free Beacon, he told Firing Line host Margaret Hoover that Chinese president Xi Jinping "is “not a dictator”:
"The Communist Party wants to stay in power in China and they listen to the public," Bloomberg said. "When the public says ‘I can't breathe the air,' Xi Jinping is not a dictator. He has to satisfy his constituents, or he's not going to survive."
"He's not a dictator?" Hoover asked. "He doesn't have a vote, he doesn't have a democracy. He's not held accountable by voters. Is the check on him just a revolution?"
"No, he has a constituency to answer to," Bloomberg responded. "You're not going to have a revolution. No government survives without the will of the majority of its people."
Bloomberg expressed a similar sentiment in the 2020 elections.
Perhaps Bloomberg admires authoritarian regimes given his reputation as a nanny-stater while mayor of New York City. In fact, it appears he’s directly funded totalitarian policies in other countries. In 2021, public officials in the Philippines investigated direct influence by Bloomberg Philanthropies over the country’s extreme tobacco control policies.
Regardless, Bloomberg’s deference to China is concerning given his role as Chair of President Biden’s Defense Innovation Board.
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