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Korea Investment Corp on U.S.-China Tensions and Tech Nationalism

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SINGAPORE Investors should not be “too bearish” in the markets even as tensions between the United States and China continue to rise, the managing director of the South Korean sovereign wealth fund said this week.

This is in part because the relationship is unlikely to change in the short term, said Choi Heenam of Korea Investment Corporation.

“The US-China dispute is not just political,” he told CNBC’s Tanvir Gill on the first day of the Singapore summit. “It is a hegemonic conflict based on structural issues rather than political interests.”

“I think this will continue to be an overhang for the global economy, but ultimately not destructive,” he said on Monday.

As a natural consequence of the pandemic crisis, more countries tend to focus on the national interest rather than the global interest. This means that technological nationalism will intensify. This is very bad news for businesses.

Choi Heenam

Korea Investment Corporation

He said he didn’t see the US madness towards China changing much after the November presidential elections, as there is bipartisan support for Washington’s current policy towards Beijing.

“With that in mind, we don’t need to be too bearish in the market, even as tensions between the two countries intensify. Instead, we need to take advantage of the risk-off mode on the market. market, if there is everything. “

A risk-free scenario is one where investors are less risk tolerant and sell their assets, which drives down prices.

Technological nationalism

Choi also weighed in on the rise in protectionism and said it would “definitely hinder” the development of new technologies.

“As a natural consequence of the pandemic crisis, more countries tend to focus on the national interest rather than the global interest,” he said. “This means that technological nationalism will intensify. This is very bad news for business.”

In addition to their trade dispute, the United States and China have also been locked in a tech war, with Washington putting pressure on Chinese tech companies.

The United States is trying to block Chinese companies, like smartphone maker Huawei, from buying important components. United States. The Defense Ministry said this month it could blacklist the international semiconductor manufacturing company, China’s largest semiconductor maker.

Choi said the Korea Investment Corporation tends to invest more in US technology companies, but acknowledged that there is a “clear competitive advantage” for some Chinese companies. KIC must strike the right balance between the two countries, but “destructive” forces can cause companies to lose their competitive edge, he said.

“It will hurt our interest in investing,” he said. “I am really worried about this issue, so I hope everything will be resolved peacefully and easily.”

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