Mubasher: US President Donald Trump “is right” to ask for concessions from China, which has for long taken advantage of other countries, according to Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris.
“I think the [Chinese] leadership is smart, so they will change what they can change,” Sawiris told CNBC on Tuesday.
However, “if you tell you tell them, ‘you need to change your whole system,’ they won’t be doing that,” he noted, adding that “we need to see what we can get without disrupting their system.
The US demanded China to undertake structural reforms to protect US intellectual property rights and end policies that compel American companies transfer technology to Chinese firms.
Such complaints, along with accusations of Chinese cyber-theft of US trade secrets and a systematic campaign to acquire US technology firms, were used by President Trump to justify tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports.
Sawiris pointed to a potential for changing “lots of things,” including China buying more goods from trade partners.
As far as the current trade talks between the world’s two largest economies are concerned, the business mogul voiced optimism about the prospects of the negotiations, expecting that both sides would reach a common ground, “because China has more ambition than to start now another aggravation.”
Nevertheless, “the political situation in the whole world has never been worse [as] people expect wars […] whether it’s a trade war or a real war,” Sawiris said.
On a side note, the Egyptian billionaire believes that other countries are justified in their worries that Chinese telecoms giant Huawei could pose a security risk.
“I think there is genuine concern, and I think it's justified,” Sawiris said, adding that it took the Western countries very long to get worried about the issue.
Since 2012, the US administration banned Huawei from selling network equipment in the US on national security grounds.
Meanwhile, China and Huawei have denied that there is any risk to other countries from the company’s hardware.
Several other countries took the US lead and moved toward banning Huawei products from being used in developing their own fifth-generation (5G) technology.
“I don't know how we'll remedy that because that will apply then to everyone: If I'm Chinese, I might not any take equipment from Motorola, for example,” Sawiris added.
The only way to resolve this matter would be “if all the security agencies somehow swear on the Bible that they will not be spying on each other,” Sawiris suggested.