The irony and hypocrisy of JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon’s rapid volte face on his ‘joke’ about his bank’s outliving China’s Communist Party is becoming clearer this morning.
It turns out that during the event, the CEO of the world’s most important bank commented that:
“If they start to tell you what you can say here, because you do business in China, that’s a problem.”
Each time a country or company challenges the status quo on China it makes it easier for others to recalibrate their own relationship, according to Wen-Ti Sung, a lecturer in the Australian National University Taiwan studies program. He noted that Beijing has been restrained toward the WTA compared with other organizations that received more aggressive treatment.
“It decreases the cost of each new participant considering hopping onto the bandwagon,” Sung said.
“Beijing cannot reasonably take on them all at the same time.”
And the same should go for companies:
“Companies, in particular, are realizing more and more that they can’t ignore political risks of doing business in China, and will have to answer to shareholders and other constituencies at home,” said Natasha Kassam, director of the Lowy Institute think-tank’s public opinion and foreign policy program, and a former Australian diplomat in China.
“As views towards China sour, we can see increased expectations that governments and companies will be more forthright on China’s many human rights issues.”
But hey, as we detailed below, there’s at least 20 billion reasons why a bank CEO could shrug off the totalitarian censorship of the communist regime.
The good news for Dimon this morning, as he prepares for his Thanksgiving, it appears his sycophantic bootlicking has worked. As Bloomberg reports, at a briefing in Beijing on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said he “noticed the sincere reflection” by Dimon.
“We believe this is the right attitude,” he said.
Let’s all give thanks for China!
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As we detailed yesterday, this past week saw the Basel-based Financial Stability Board release its latest annual rankings of systematically important banks. JPMorgan was moved back up to the highest tier and now stands alone as the world’s most important bank. (Chinese banks which are generally bigger have explicit state support and as such as broadly viewed as less risky).
Also yesterday, JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon quipped that his bank is likely to outlast China’s Communist Party:
“We hope to be there for a long time,” Dimon said of China on Tuesday.
He relayed a “joke” he made during a recent visit to Hong Kong:
“The Communist Party is celebrating its 100th year. So is JPMorgan. And I’ll make you a bet we last longer.”
Dimon made the remarks while speaking Tuesday at a panel discussion at the Boston College Chief Executives Club (and admittedly he did reiterate his company’s commitment to the country in wide-ranging comments).
When asked for comment at a regular press briefing on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian said:
“Is it really necessary to cite such remarks that are merely to attract people’s attention?”
Apparently that did not go down well in Beijing as this morning Dimon has issued a quick statement, apologizing for his comments:
“I regret and should not have made that comment,” Dimon said in a statement from the bank Wednesday.
“I was trying to emphasize the strength and longevity of our company.”
Yep, 20 billion reasons for why the CEO of the world’s most important bank joined the likes of LeBron James in genuflecting at the altar of Xi.