JPMorgan Chase & Co chief executive officer Jamie Dimon on Tuesday quipped that his company is likely to outlast the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), while reiterating the bank’s commitment to the country in wide-ranging comments that also touched on Taiwan, free speech and former US president Donald Trump.
“We hope to be there [in China] for a long time,” Dimon told a panel discussion at the Boston College Chief Executives Club.
Relaying a “joke” he made during a recent visit to Hong Kong, he said “The communist party is celebrating its 100th year. So is JPMorgan. And I’ll make you a bet we last longer.”
JPMorgan has been operating in China since 1921, the same year the CCP was founded.
Dimon said he would not be able to joke about outlasting the party if he were in China, but added that officials there were probably listening to his remarks in Boston.
Dimon, one of the longest serving and most outspoken CEOs on Wall Street, also said that he does not know anyone who “thinks that something’s gonna go wrong in Taiwan.”
The tensions amounted to “saber rattling,” he said, adding that a Chinese intervention in Taiwan “could be their Vietnam.”
China has a history of taking action against companies and individuals that appear to challenge its policies, particularly on sensitive issues like Taiwan or the legitimacy of the CCP.
In 2019, UBS Group AG came under pressure to fire its chief economist, Paul Donovan, after he made a comment about a “Chinese pig” in a note about rising consumer prices.
He later apologized, saying it was “innocently intended.”
Dimon said Trump “wasn’t wrong” about the WTO, NATO and China, adding that he detests a lot of what the former president had said and would not have done things the same way.
He defended JPMorgan’s presence in China, saying that the US’ biggest bank cannot go in and out of countries every time it does not like its policies.
The bank also has presences in Russia, Pakistan and Egypt, he added.
“But we need leadership, and I’m hoping the [US President Joe] Biden administration provides it,” he said.
Dimon also touched on the US’ competitiveness against China, saying that the US’ per capita gross GDP is about four times higher and “our demographics are better.”
“If you opened up the doors of America, a billion people come here,” Dimon said. “If you open the doors of China, how many people do you think would go there? And so people should be a little careful when they think that China is ascendant that way.”
Earlier this year, JPMorgan won approval from Chinese regulators to fully own its China securities venture — a sign that US financial firms are forging ahead with plans to expand in the country, despite tensions between the world’s two largest economies.
As of December last year, the bank’s total exposure to China had risen by 10.4 percent to US$21.2 billion, driven by trading and investing, which includes market-making inventory and securities.
Dimon has called China one of the biggest opportunities in the world for JPMorgan. He visited Hong Kong last week, after being granted an exemption from the territory’s COVID-19 rules.
He at the time said that he was “not swayed by geopolitical winds.”
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