Billionaire philanthropist George Soros remarked on Monday, January 31st, that President Xi Jinping’s grip on power is threatened by an economic crisis centered on China’s troubled real estate market and the spread of the omicron coronavirus variant.
As Nikkei Asia reported, Soros said on Monday at an event sponsored by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University that “Omicron threatens to be Xi Jinping’s undoing.”
Soros said the Chinese president faces a test as the world’s attention turns to Beijing. Xi is widely expected to win a third five-year term as the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) leader this fall.
He said, “Chinese people have been vaccinated only against the Wuhan variant, and Xi Jinping’s guilty secret is bound to be revealed either during the Winter Olympics or soon thereafter.”
Xi Jinping has been trying to stamp out the virus with severe lockdowns under the Zero-COVID policy, but it costs the affected cities.
Soros stated, “he sought to impose ultimate control, but he failed.”
Cracks in China’s property market also represent another risk. Soros said that the crisis had shattered trust in the CCP and that plummeting property prices would “turn many of those who invested the bulk of their savings in real estate against” the country’s leader.
In addition, the shortfall of China’s birth rate is much lower than official figures suggest. Accordingly, this shortfall will “aggravate the real estate crisis [and] produce labor shortages, fiscal strain and a slowdown in the economy.”
Moreover, the billionaire said that Xi faces rifts within the Communist Party. “There is a fight brewing within the CCP that is so sharp that it has found expression in various party publications.” Soros added, “Xi is under attack from those who are inspired by Deng Xiaoping’s ideas and want to see a greater role for private enterprise.”
According to Soros, replacing Xi with a less repressive one would “remove the greatest threat that open societies face today.”