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Egyptian billionaire: Trump is right about China
CNBC
Tue, 12 Feb 2019 05:36

Egyptian billionaire: Trump is right about China

CNBC
Tue, 12 Feb 2019 05:36

Egyptian billionaire: Trump is right about China


Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris didnt mince words in his evaluation of the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China and the security concerns about Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.

Beijing has long taken advantage of other countries and U.S. President Donald Trump is right to seek changes out of Asias largest economy, he told CNBCs Hadley Gamble on Tuesday.

"President Trump is right about that: This has been a long time where we closed eyes on China raping us. So, by the time you come and tell them, You need to change, I mean, they just used to be so comfortable and do whatever they want," he said. "But I think the leadership is smart, so they will change what they can change. If you tell them, You need to change your whole system, they wont be doing that."
"So we need to see what we can get without disrupting their system," Sawiris added, noting that he sees potential for change in "lots of things," including by importing more from trade partners.

Given that, he expressed optimism about the future for trade negotiations between the U.S. and China: "I think theyll come to a conclusion — because China has more ambition than to start now another aggravation."

Still, overall, he said, "the political situation in the whole world has never been worse."

"People expect wars ... whether its a trade war or its a real war," Sawiris said, noting a list of geopolitical hot spots including "the Middle East in disarray" and China pressuring Taiwan. "Its just not like a very stable world today."
Sawiris, who has vast telecommunications holdings, also weighed in on the drama around Chinese equipment maker Huawei.

Since 2012, Huawei, the worlds largest maker of networking equipment, has been barred from selling those products in the U.S. on the explanation of security concerns by the U.S. government. China and Huawei, meanwhile, have repeatedly denied that theres any risk to other countries from the companys hardware, and alleged that the American injunctions are actually due to fears of competition.
"I think there is genuine concern, and I think its justified," the Egyptian billionaire told CNBC on Tuesday. "Its actually taking the West very long to — I mean, you know, telecom was my domain — to get worried. I think they should be worried."

Now, several other countries have taken Washingtons lead and moved toward banning Huawei products from being used in their own development of 5G tech — the next generation of ultra-high speed internet.

Sawiris warned that such concerns, although justified, may eventually lead to technological silos between countries.

"I dont know how well remedy that because that will apply then to everyone: If Im Chinese, I might not any take equipment from Motorola, for example," Sawiris said.

Ultimately, he suggested, the only way to solve the problem would be "if all the security agencies somehow swear on the Bible that they will not be spying on each other."

But even if such an unlikely event were to take place, he added, "whos going to believe them?"

— CNBCs Saheli Roy Choudhury contributed to this report.