FIRST ON FOX: Vivek Ramaswamy’s Republican presidential campaign is explaining the former CEO’s ‘awakening’ on the threat China poses to the United States, following scrutiny for his former company’s partnership with a Chinese Communist Party-backed company just a few years ago.
Ramaswamy has repeatedly expressed his support for banning American companies from expanding into China. Just Thursday, he unveiled his plan to ‘decouple’ from China in a speech in his home state of Ohio.
‘Unless you stop turning our companies into lobbying pawns, unless you actually play by the same set of rules abiding by the same standards we agreed to, then we’re cutting the cord,’ he said. ‘You will not buy land in this country. You will not donate to universities in this country. You will not turn companies into your Trojan horses. Our companies will not expand into your Chinese market.’
Ramaswamy, who has described China as the ‘greatest external threat to America,’ issued the same sentiment during an interview with Fox News in June, saying he supports banning companies from doing business in China.
‘I would ban most U.S. businesses from doing business in China unless and until the CCP reforms its behaviors,’ he said. ‘I’m talking about actual real measures: no data theft, no intellectual property theft, no more turning our own companies into your geopolitical pawns to do you bidding using lobbying conditions as a basis for giving access.’
Ramaswamy, however, was eager to do business with China just five years ago. On July 17, 2018, his company, Roivant Sciences, announced it was partnering with CITIC PE, the private equity arm of the China state-owned investment company CITIC Group Corp., to create the China-based firm Sinovant Sciences.
Sinovant’s website, which has since been deleted, said it was committed to ‘advancing Chinese biopharmaceutical innovation globally,’ according to internet archives by the Wayback Machine.
Ramaswamy campaign communications director Tricia McLaughlin told Fox News Digital that the Roivant founder’s views on China have changed due to his experiences with the company and that a Sinovant-like launch would not be allowed under his presidency.
‘No, it would not have been able to launch,’ McLaughlin said. ‘Our country is at a precipice. We cannot depend on an enemy for our modern way of life.’
‘Today, Vivek unveiled exactly how we will sensibly decouple from Communist China: onshore critical supply chains to the U.S. while expanding trade with our closest allies,’ she continued. ‘China exploited the bipartisan U.S. consensus around ‘democratic capitalism’ to achieve parity & co-dependence with the U.S. over the last 30 years, but now is the moment to fix it and regain American sovereignty.’
‘Vivek is the only candidate in either party to lay out a specific plan to diversify away from the Chinese-driven pharmaceutical supply chain through improved domestic onshoring and stronger trade relationships with Israel, India, and other countries will help reduce dependence on China,’ she added.
Sinovant launched in 2018 with a pipeline of 11 investigational biopharmaceutical products for Greater China and other Asian markets, including four therapies suitable for phase III clinical trial application or registration in China, including derazantinib, lefamulin, RVT-802 and naronapride, according to a press release.
Sinovant’s launch came the same year that Ramaswamy spoke at a pharmaceutical conference in Shanghai. Ramaswamy’s campaign told the Wall Street Journal last month that it did not have a transcript or video of the speech.
On April 4, 2019, Roivant and Sinovant announced they were launching Cytovant Sciences to partner with Germany-based MediGene AG to develop immunotherapies in China, South Korea and Japan.
Sinovant’s website went offline sometime after Dec. 2, 2021, when the website was last archived by Wayback.
Ramaswamy stepped down from Roivant on Feb. 20, 2023, to run for president.
‘Vivek’s views are a product of his experiences,’ McLaughlin told Fox News Digital. ‘We need leaders who understand complex issues deeply in order to address them, and Vivek believes in learning from experiences.’
‘There’s a reason why Vivek was the only prominent CEO who publicly called out the Chinese risks,’ she said. ‘There’s a reason why Vivek is the only candidate to offer a vision for declaring independence from our chief adversary. We hope other candidates and private sector leaders will soon follow suit as they have done on other issues.’
McLaughlin said Roivant ‘eventually wound down its operation’ in China ‘as the risks of doing business in China became apparent.’
A Roivant spokesperson told The New Republic in February that Ramaswamy was CEO when the companies were formed but ‘stepped down as CEO prior to us winding them down.’
The spokesperson said Sinovant and Cytovant are no longer operating companies but still exist for legal purposes and that neither company generated any sales or profits.
Roivant declined to comment when reached by Fox News Digital.
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