Vivek Ramaswamy defended his work in China during the second Republican presidential debate, arguing that "every other CEO expanded into the Chinese market," and his company "got the hell out of there" after a few years.
The candidate’s comments followed reports that his biotech company worked with senior members of the Chinese Communist Party in 2017, including one prominent family that did business with Hunter Biden.
Ramaswamy defended his work, saying he pulled out of China in 2018 and has since stopped doing business in the country.
"In my first company, we opened a subsidiary in China. But you know what I did, that was different than every other company? We got the hell out of there," said Ramaswamy during the debate on Wednesday.
Ramaswamy was responding to criticism from other Republican contenders about his work in China. One of Ramaswamy’s pharmaceutical companies, Sinovant, received financial backing from the private equity arm of CITIC, a Chinese government-linked investment firm.
Sen. Tim Scott (R., S.C.) accused Ramaswamy of going into "business with the Chinese Communist Party, and the same people that funded Hunter Biden millions of dollars."
Scott noted that Ramaswamy only stopped doing business in China in 2018, which was "about the time [Ramaswamy] decided to start voting in presidential elections."
Ramaswamy has faced criticism for his position on Taiwan. The candidate has argued that the United States should only defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion until 2028, a time when Ramaswamy said America will no longer rely on Taiwan for semiconductor independence.
Ramaswamy also defended his decision to use TikTok, a Chinese government-linked social media platform that U.S. officials have deemed a national security risk. The candidate said he is on the platform because he wants to "actually win" and is focused on "reaching the next generation."
"There's exactly one person in the Republican Party, which talks a big game about reaching young people. And that’s me," he said.
Former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley shot back that Ramaswamy’s comments were "infuriating" because "TikTok is one of the most dangerous social media apps that we can have."
"Every time I hear you I feel a little bit dumber for what you say," said Haley.