Ray Dalio, the billionaire founder of Bridgewater Associates LP, took to social media Sunday to “clarify” comments he made last week in which he appeared to brush off human-rights abuses in China.
Dalio said he “sloppily answered” a question during a CNBC interview that “created a misunderstanding” of his views.
“I assure you that I didn’t mean to convey that human rights aren’t important because I certainly believe they are and I didn’t mean to convey that the US and China deal with these issues similarly because they certainly don’t,” Dalio said in a series of tweets Sunday, and in a LinkedIn post.
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Dalio said he was trying to explain “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.
“Understanding and agreeing are two different things, and that’s what was lost in the interview. I’m sorry my answer lacked that nuance and caused confusion,” he wrote.
Bridgewater — the world’s largest hedge fund — has significant investments in China, and raised about $1.25 billion for its latest investment fund in China in the third quarter, the Wall Street Journal reported last month.
The brouhaha started last Tuesday, when Dalio was interviewed on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” and on the subject of concerns about investing in China told host Andrew Ross Sorkin: “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. … As a top-down country what they are doing is … they behave like a strict parent.”
He added: “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, or other things?”
The comments drew condemnation by the Wall Street Journal editorial board, which said his comments “show why so many Americans dislike Wall Street,” and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, among others.
“Ray Dalio is brilliant and a friend, but his feigned ignorance of China’s horrific abuses and rationalization of complicit investments there is a sad moral lapse,” Romney tweeted Thursday.