Jamie Dimon gathers business elite in Shanghai amid US-China tensions

Jamie Dimon gathers business elite in Shanghai amid US-China tensions
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JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has invited Henry Kissinger and a group of US and Chinese corporate leaders to a summit in Shanghai as global companies grapple with the worst Sino-US tensions in years.

Next week’s event, part of Dimon’s first visit to mainland China in four years, underscores attempts by US companies to keep plans on track in the world’s second-largest economy.

The chief executives of US giants Starbucks and Pfizer, and Chinese giants Baidu and Geely, are among those who will attend in person. Kissinger, the century-old statesman and architect of Sino-American rapprochement in the 1970s, will address the meeting via video link.

The event follows a Chinese crackdown on consulting firms that has rattled Western companies that rely on their advice, and Beijing’s ban on key infrastructure operators buying the products of US chipmaker Micron Technology. The United States has been making it difficult for China’s tech sector to access state-of-the-art components and machinery..

It will be the first time Dimon has visited mainland China since he apologized in 2021 for telling US business leaders his bank would outlive the Chinese Communist Party.

“The timing fits well with the softening of the US-China rhetoric, with Biden calling for a thaw,” said Han Lin, a professor at NYU Shanghai. But he added: “We’ve seen this story before, where things get better and then they get worse, and it’s uncertainty that keeps multinational corporations on their toes.”

JPMorgan executives themselves have highlighted the tense relationship between Beijing and Washington. The tension between China and the US was “something we have to learn to live with because it cannot be resolved, but we hope that through dialogue that tension will become constructive,” COO Daniel Pinto told investors. this month.

No Chinese government figures will speak at the conference, which in previous years has been addressed by a representative of the Ministry of Finance and an adviser to the State Council or cabinet.

Kissinger, who turns 100 on May 27, and Condoleezza Rice, the former US Secretary of State, will participate virtually in a session titled “A Dialogue on Diplomacy” chaired by Mary Erdoes, the bank’s director of asset management. Other sessions include talks on decarbonization, health, and supply chain resilience.

Laxman Narasimhan will attend as part of his first trip to Starbucks’ second-biggest market since he replaced Howard Schultz as CEO of the coffee chain in March. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla will join as part of his second visit to China in two months. Bourla told the FT earlier this month that he still saw a “very big” opportunity for Pfizer in the country.

Robin Li, founder of the Chinese Internet company Baidu, and Daniel Li, who runs the Chinese automaker Geely, will speak at the event.

So are Australian mining billionaire Andrew Forrest, Stella Li, executive vice president of Chinese electric car maker BYD and Ming Mei, chief executive of Singapore-based LPG warehouse operator.

JPMorgan declined to comment.

The meeting comes at a time when corporate ties between the two superpowers are fraying and doubts are growing about the strength of China’s post-pandemic rebound. However, many global corporations are still looking to China’s economy to fuel their growth.

Raids on the Chinese offices of several consultancies have made American companies more cautious about operating in the country, and the US Chamber of Commerce warned last month that a new anti-espionage law “increases drastically the uncertainties and risks of doing business in the People’s Republic”.

Washington and Beijing are trying to stabilize relations on trade. China’s trade minister and his US counterpart raised concerns about their countries’ trade and investment policies at a meeting in Washington this week, but vowed to keep channels of communication open. It was the first visit by a senior Chinese official to the US capital since 2020.

A Conference Board survey released this week showed growing confidence in China’s prospects among CEOs of multinational companies with operations in the country. But 88 percent of them warned that geopolitical tensions were negatively affecting their businesses, and US-based CEOs remained more pessimistic than their European peers.

US-based multinationals reported mixed results from their China operations in the past earnings season.

It is the first time since 2019 that the JPMorgan summit in China has been held in person and more than 2,600 people are expected to attend the event, whose sessions are closed to the media.

Additional reporting by Joe Leahy in Beijing and Jamie Smyth in New York


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