An executive officer at Asia’s largest private equity fund has criticized China’s zero-Covid strategy. He is a rare prominent businessman daring to condemn China’s policy.
Shan Weijian is CEO of Hong Kong Pacific Alliance Group (PAG), a private equity firm that manages more than 50 billion dollars in assets.
Shan, 68, used to be a vocal supporter of the Chinese government. He has defended the government’s “war on terror” in Xinjiang and its “territorial claims” over Taiwan.
He previously also supported how the government handled the Covid pandemic via lockdown and mass testing.
Shan is a successful symbol of capitalist China. In March, he was appointed to the board of directors at Alibaba and a member of the audit board.
But in a recent meeting with his broker to promote the initial public offering for his equity firm, Shan expressed dissatisfaction with the Chinese government’s zero-Covid policy.
PAG filed for a 2 billion dollar IPO in Hong Kong last month, that would value the firm at up to 15 billion dollars.
As reported by the Financial Times, Shan said the draconian policy leaves China’s economy semi-paralyzed.
Regarding the grim picture of the economy, Shan said he thought “the crisis is man-made” to a very large extent.
He added: “We have a leadership who thinks they know what is best for the economy and what is best for the livelihood of the people. Unfortunately, I think their knowledge and their rationality are both limited.”
According to the Chinese-language news outlet Da Ji Yuan, Shan’s remarks attracted widespread attention after they were made public.
Yokogawa, a political commentator, said that Shan’s speech was unusual. He explained that executives at large companies doing business with China generally do not publicly criticize the government.
The criticism of the government’s policies may have a certain consequence.
When Alibaba founder Jack Ma blasted China’s financial regulation, he went missing for three months. And the IPO of Jack Ma’s Ant Group was shelved.