As the COVID-19 pandemic, geopolitical conflicts and the macroeconomic policies of developed countries such as the US lead to negative impacts on the global economy, a global crisis is imminent, threatening the economies of all countries around the world. In a recent interview with the Global Times (GT), Jim Rogers, an international investor and the author of A Bull in China: Investing Profitably in the World's Greatest Market, shared his views about both the Chinese and global economy.
GT: In your opinion, what has been the biggest change in China over the past decade? To you, in what ways has the change been seen?
Jim Rogers: China was less developed when I first went to there in 1980s, but now it has the best airports, best highways, best everything. In the past 40 years, especially the past 10 years, China has done an enormous unbelievable job of developing, whether we're talking about the computers, the internet, highways, airports, hotels, everything. This means somebody has done something right. Beijing has been making the right decisions, opening the economy, opening the country. History is very clear that if you are open and trade, you're going to be more successful than if you're closed and do not have interaction with others. China has done a great job.
As for myself, the last 10 years, I moved to Asia because of China. I wanted my children to know Asia and to speak perfect Putonghua. It has been my biggest investment in the last 10 years. I invested in my children and trying to prepare them for the 21st century, which will be the century of China.
GT: In the past 10 years, which sectors of China's economy have you focused on and bought shares? As a foreign investor, how do you evaluate the opening process and internationalization of China's capital market over the past decade?
Jim Rogers: In the past few years we've had the COVID-19 epidemic, the virus that's caused many shares to go down a lot. I do remember a Chinese word weiji which means disaster and opportunity the same thing. I've invested in transportation, tourism, agriculture, things that have been very badly hurt by the virus. I think these areas will improve in post-COVID recovery. Agriculture has been hurt badly for a long time in many places across the world. Beijing is trying to help agriculture. So agriculture is quickly exciting, especially in China. Metal looks good because we're going to have electric cars, which use much more copper, lead and lithium. If China continues to open up, transportation, energy, tourism, cultural and entertainment industries will all be well developed.
In the past 10 years, China's stock market has seen tremendous progress and become much more open. More and more foreigners know they can buy and sell Chinese stocks. I hope China will continue to open up its financial markets. China is now a rich, successful and powerful country. I hope there should be more IPOs in China and Chinese stocks, bonds and yuan can be easily bought anywhere in the world.
GT: Some said that China will lead to a hard landing, what do you think of this view?
Jim Rogers: I know there are people who say that about China for a long time. In my view, that is inaccurate. It's people who don't understand China or maybe if they do understand China they're just trying to make themselves more important.
Yes, China will have problems while moving forward, but everybody has problems as they rise. America became the most successful country in the 20th century, but along the way we had many depressions, we had bankruptcy.
GT: In your opinion, what impact has the US' trade war, smearing campaign against China's Xinjiang region and other repressive measures had on China? Will more Western countries join in the suppression against China?
Jim Rogers: Throughout history when people have problems, they blame someone else, they always blame foreigners. Politicians know that they can blame foreigners. But it's not good. I have to repeat many times. We should be working together.
Because America is going to have economic problems in the next 2 or 3 years, they're going to blame that on other countries, especially China. It's not good for America, it's not good for the world, but that's what people do when they have bad times. Former US President Donald Trump tried to blame his problems on China. He tried to blame everybody, Germany, Canada, everybody, but especially China.
The US imposed additional tariffs against China trying to restrain Chinese trade with the US. In my view, it's always a mistake. I have never ever seen tariffs work for in the long term. They've always caused more harm than good. I wish that the US would not impose tariffs on anyone including China.
I know what the Americans say about China's Xinjiang region. I haven't been there a long time, but when I was there, I thought I didn't see any problems. Now China has invited people to comment, inspect and so far nobody independent has been able to demonstrate that China's doing bad things out there.
I suspect the US would try to do more to contain China. There is of what in history often when you have a dominant power and a rising power, they have often had war, not always, they don't have to. In the past 40 years the US and China have both made a lot of money together. We've traded a lot and we've had great success. China and the US should continue to work together and make a lot of prosperity together.
Many Western countries will not follow the US to suppress China. Some countries under US controls will certainly do what the US says, but most countries now around the world are trying to be friendly with China. Most countries do not want to get into a dispute with China and have problems with China, and some will do what the US says, but not like 20 years ago when most countries would have done what the US said. Now there are many countries that want to be friends with China which is good news for the world.
GT: Where does the resilience of China's economy and society come from?
Jim Rogers: Anybody, any economists, whether they're 200 years ago or 200 days ago, will tell you that you need high savings and high investment to have a successful economy and a successful country. The Chinese have a much higher savings rate than that America does. Chinese also have a great education system, that's one of the reasons I moved into Asia so that my children would experience the Asian education. So you combine education, a strong work ethic, a high savings rate, high discipline, everything that makes a great country. America had that 100 years ago, China has it now. China has been the most successful country in the world in the past 40 years. That's a simple situation one can measure. That's not an opinion; that is a fact.
The world is going to have serious problems mainly because there's so much debt. The US is now the largest debtor nation in the history of the world and it's getting worse every day. China should do what it was doing 5 years ago, 10 years ago and continue to open up. If the US does foolish things, the best thing for China to do is not retaliate. China should continue to open up to the world.