JPMorgan CEO takes back joke about China’s Communist Party

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Jamie Dimon expressed regret as the bank monitors developments in China.

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JPMorgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon said on Wednesday he regretted his remarks that the Wall Street bank would last longer than the Communist Party of China, moving quickly to avoid any long-term downside. .

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Dimon’s comments jeopardized JPMorgan’s growth ambitions in China, where it won regulatory approval in August to become the first wholly foreign owner of a securities brokerage in the country. Chinese experts in the United States said his quick apology should ensure no serious damage was done.

“I’m sorry and I shouldn’t have made that comment. I was trying to emphasize the strength and longevity of my company,” Dimon said in a statement released by the bank.

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In a later statement, Dimon said: “It is never right to joke about or defame any group of people, be it the country, its leadership, or any part of society and culture. That Speaking in kind can take away from the constructive and thoughtful dialogue in society, which is needed now more than ever.”

Speaking in the Boston College series of CEO interviews on Tuesday, Dimon said: “I joked the other day that the Communist Party is celebrating its 100th year – so is JPMorgan. I’ll bet we’ll last a long time.” Stay.”

“I can’t say that in China. They’re probably listening anyway,” he said.

Beijing’s approval for JPMorgan to take full ownership of its securities business was a milestone in opening up China’s capital markets after years of gradual moves and pressure from Washington.

Academics say Beijing sees the participation of foreign banks as vital to China’s domestic financial development. However, he says, Western companies doing business in China still need to tread carefully.

“Dimon’s apology shows that foreign businesses have to show a degree of respect to the Chinese government in order to remain in good standing and maintain access to the country’s markets,” said Cornell University professor Ishwar Prasad.

“I don’t think it will have any long-term consequences,” said Leland Miller, chief executive of data firm China Beige Book and an expert on China’s financial system.

JPMorgan received regulatory approval in August to become the first wholly foreign owner of a securities brokerage in China [File:Dylan Martinez/Reuters]

Dimon’s comments sparked a backlash from commentators in China.

Hu Zijin, editor of the nationalist tabloid Global Times and China’s most outspoken journalist, said on Twitter: “Think long term! And I bet the CPC will overtake the USA.”

When asked by Bloomberg about Dimon’s comments at a news conference on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian replied: “Why the publicity stunt with some grand remarks?” According to an English language transcript of the comments.

Global executives typically choose their words carefully when discussing China, where foreign companies are sometimes subject to backlash for alleged crimes.

Swiss bank UBS ran into trouble in 2019 after one of its senior economists interpreted a comment about food inflation and swine fever as racist slurs. He was suspended for three months and UBS lost a key role on a bond deal for a state-backed client.

Earlier this year, Swedish fashion giant H&M and US-based Nike Inc. faced a backlash from Chinese state media and e-commerce platforms after expressing concerns about allegations that the cotton was produced in Xinjiang. Forced labor was used for

Prasad said, “The Chinese government has demonstrated its willingness to curb or, in some cases, shut down the operations of foreign businesses in the country if they openly challenge the government or are involved, either alleged or indirectly. “

A week earlier, Dimon was granted an exemption by the Hong Kong government without the need to visit the Chinese-controlled financial center.

Tourists coming to the city from most countries will have to stay in hotel quarantine for two to three weeks at their own expense.

Dimon was in Hong Kong for 32 hours after arriving by private jet.

“Jamie Dimon’s best and worst feature is that he speaks his mind,” said Wells Fargo analyst Mike Mayo.

“It usually works out well for him and makes him more authentic and appreciated by investors. But sometimes it gets him into trouble.”

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