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Steve Bannon, the combative former White House chief strategist who leads the far-right website Breitbart News, was in Hong Kong on Tuesday for his first post-White House speech.
The speech, at an investment conference hosted by the Chinese government-backed CLSA, focused heavily on economic issues facing the US but also addressed other political issues facing parts of the Asia-Pacific region.
According to Wei Du, a reporter at the Singapore-based Channel NewsAsia, Bannon said the US was in an “economic war” with other countries – including Japan, China, and South Korea. But Bannon did praise the Chinese economic system and spoke about the “affinity” between the US and the Chinese dating back to World War II.
Bannon is generally considered to be more protectionist, and he drove anti-trade efforts, particularly against China, during his time in the White House, making his tone Tuesday a bit unexpected.
Bannon said China’s “way of running their economic system is quite brilliant,” according to Du, and that “there isn’t a world leader” whom President Donald Trump respected more than Chinese President Xi Jinping. The Chinese economic system blends a mix of a capitalist structure with strong state control over many of the largest businesses including the financial system.
In addition to the global economic system, Bannon also addressed the US political climate.
According to CNN, which talked to an investor in the room, Bannon said he would have advised Trump against making the deal with Democrats that raised the debt ceiling and extended government funding for three months as well as providing billions of dollars for Hurricane Harvey relief.