Vivek Ramaswamy is furiously defending his business ties in China. What are they?

‘Vivek’s first business had a subsidiary in China’ which was closed ‘as the risks of doing business in China became apparent,’ Ramaswamy spokesperson says

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Thursday 28 September 2023 22:36 BST
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Chaos breaks out as candidates jump on Ramaswamy

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As the Republican candidates tried to stand out as the toughest critic of the Chinese Communist Party during the second GOP primary debate, biotech entrepreneur and anti-woke author Vivek Ramaswamy was attacked from all sides over his business ties to the country.

Seven candidates took part in the debate on 27 September at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, with South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, former Vice President Mike Pence, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis slammed Mr Ramaswamy for his previous ties to China.

Mr Scott claimed that Mr Ramaswamy was “just in business with the Chinese Communist Party” – an allegation the 38-year-old political neophyte branded as “nonsense”.

Mr DeSantis said that “everybody” was aware that the entrepreneur had done “business in China” and Ms Haley blasted Mr Ramaswamy for cutting his connections to the firm shortly before announcing his presidential campaign. Mr Pence also slammed Mr Ramaswamy for his connections to China.

Mr Ramaswamy pushed back, saying that he did business in the country “when every other CEO expanded into the Chinese market”.

“You know what I did with my first company? We opened a subsidiary in China,” he said. “But you know what I did that was different than every other company? We got the hell out of there. And when I started my next company ... I made a commitment that we would never do business in China.”

Mr Ramaswamy has no current business connections to China, Newsweek notes.

The 38-year-old founded the biotech company Roivant Sciences in 2014. Four years later, the company merged with CITIC PE, a part of a bigger firm owned by the Chinese government. Together, the two companies formed Sinovant Sciences, a Chinese pharmaceutical company, according to the magazine.

The company was “a Shanghai-based biopharmaceutical company dedicated to bringing innovative medicines to China and advancing Chinese biopharmaceutical innovation abroad,” a 2018 press release stated.

Roivant and Sinovant founded yet another company in 2019 – Cytovant Sciences.

Its goal was “to become Asia’s premier cell therapy company by discovering, developing, and commercializing new medicines that are uniquely suited to Asian patients”.

Mr Ramaswamy has since slammed US companies doing business with China and putting forward a foreign policy for the region.

In June, he told Fox News that he “would ban most US businesses from doing business in China unless and until the CCP reforms its behaviours”.

Ramaswamy spokesperson Tricia McLaughlin told Fox News Digital this week that his opinions on running a business in China changed following his experience creating Sinovant.

She added that Mr Ramaswamy wouldn’t allow such mergers as president because “our country is at a precipice” and “cannot depend on an enemy for our modern way of life”.

Both Sinovant and Cytovant have since ceased their activities and Mr Ramaswamy left his role as CEO of Roivant in 2021.

That year, he published the book Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam.

In August, his net worth was estimated to be $950m, according to Forbes.

In a statement to The Independent, Ms McLauglin said that “Vivek’s first business had a subsidiary in China, before the company eventually wound down its operations there as the risks of doing business in China became apparent.”

“He writes about that experience in his first book Woke, Inc. – when he discusses how he came to his anti-China views,” she added. “Vivek understands the threat posed by China more deeply than nearly any other politician in America.”

Last year, Mr Ramaswamy founded the asset management firm Strive “to compete against BlackRock,” Ms McLaughlin said. “He committed that Strive would NOT do business in China, because he didn’t want the boot of the CCP on the company’s neck.”

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