Davos, Jan 24 (PTI) Billionaire investor George Soros, known for his outspoken liberal views, has criticised virtually all economic powers of the world, including the US and China, for being ruled by 'would-be or actual dictators' and named India among the countries where nationalism is making further headway.
In a statement released here during the WEF 2020 week, he also questioned success of China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, saying it has required giving large loans, some of which will never be repaid.
The 89-year old, who has been a big donor for Democrats, said the strongest powers, the US, China and Russia, have 'remained in the hands of would-be or actual dictators and the ranks of authoritarian rulers continued to grow'.
Stating that he had last year hoped things to improve, including on international cooperation, Soros said his hopes crashed badly and nationalism, far from being reversed, made further headway.
'The biggest and most frightening setback occurred in India where a democratically-elected Narendra Modi is creating a Hindu nationalist state, imposing punitive measures on Kashmir, a semi-autonomous Muslim region, and threatening to deprive millions of Muslims of their citizenship,' he claimed.
In Latin America, a humanitarian catastrophe continues to unfold.
'To top it all off, Kim Jong-Un threatened the United States with its nuclear capabilities in his New Year's speech and Trump's impetuous actions heightened the risk of a conflagration in the Middle East,' Soros said.
On the relationship between the United States and China, he said it has become incredibly complicated and difficult to understand.
He said the two presidents, Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, face internal constraints and various enemies.
'Both try to extend the powers of their office to its limit and beyond. While they have found some mutually beneficial reasons to cooperate, their motivations are completely different.' He went on to call Trump 'a con man and the ultimate narcissist who wants the world to revolve around him'.
'When his fantasy of becoming president came true, his narcissism developed a pathological dimension. Indeed, he has transgressed the limits imposed on the presidency by the Constitution and has been impeached for it. At the same time, he has managed to gather a large number of followers who have bought into his alternative reality,' he said.
'This has turned his narcissism into a malignant disease. He came to believe that he could impose his alternative reality not only on his followers but on reality itself,' he noted.
Soros said Trump is willing to sacrifice the national interests for his personal interests and he will do practically anything to win re-election.
By contrast, Xi is eager to exploit Trump's weaknesses and use artificial intelligence to achieve total control over his people, he claimed.
Soros, however, said Xi's success is far from assured.
'One of China's vulnerabilities is that it still depends on the United States to supply it with the microprocessors it needs to dominate the 5G market and to fully implement the social credit system that is a threat to open societies.' 'The Belt and Road Initiative has required giving large loans, some of which will never be repaid. China can ill-afford this because its budget deficit has increased and its trade surplus has diminished.
'Since Xi Jinping has centralised power in his hands, China's economic policy has also lost its flexibility and inventiveness,' Soros said.
To make matters worse for Xi, the Trump administration has developed a comprehensive and bipartisan policy towards China, which has declared that China is a strategic rival, he added.
Soros further claimed Trump didn't have a strategic plan when he authorised the launching of a missile that killed the leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Suleimani, and an Iraqi pro-Iranian militia commander.
But Trump has an unfailing instinct that tells him how his faithful followers would respond to his actions, he said.
In Davos, Soros also announced that he is creating a new university network to better prepare students for current and future global challenges.
He said he is endowing the network with USD 1 billion and asking other philanthropists to contribute.
The network, which will operate throughout the world, has been named the Open Society University Network (OSUN). It will integrate teaching and research across higher education institutions worldwide. PTI BJ RAM