Legendary financier George Soros warned on Tuesday that China and Russia are the biggest threats to open societies, as he forecast that Xi Jinping might not win a third term as president.
He criticised Xi’s zero-Covid strategy, saying it had failed and tipped Shanghai towards “the verge of open rebellion”.
Soros, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, said Xi had made a series of mistakes which could cost him significant influence as the Communist Party prepares for a decision on awarding him a precedent-breaking third term.
“Repressive regimes are now in the ascendant and open societies are under siege,” Soros said. “Today China and Russia present the greatest threat to open society.”
Soros said on Tuesday that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may have been the beginning of World War Three so the best way to preserve free civilisation was for the West to defeat President Vladimir Putin’s forces.
Ukraine, A Struggle Between Open and Closed Societies
The legendary hedge fund manager who earned fame by betting against the British pound in 1992 as well as a later attack on the Hong Kong dollar, cast the Ukraine war as part of a broader struggle between open societies and closed societies such as China and Russia.
Soros, now 91, cast Russia, by far the world’s biggest country by area, and China, the world’s second largest economy, as the leading members of a group of ascendant “closed societies” where the individual was subservient to the state.
“The invasion may have been the beginning of the Third World War and our civilisation may not survive it,” Soros told Davos, according to a text of his speech released by his office.
“The best and perhaps only way to preserve our civilisation is to defeat Putin as soon as possible. That’s the bottom line.”
Soros said that Putin now believed the invasion was a mistake and was preparing to negotiate a ceasefire.
“But the ceasefire is unattainable because he cannot be trusted,” Soros said. “The weaker Putin gets the more unpredictable he becomes.”
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell