JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said on Wednesday he regretted his remarks that the Wall Street bank would last longer than China’s Communist Party, and move quickly to avoid any long-term outages.
Dimon’s remarks jeopardized JPMorgan’s growth ambitions in China, where it received regulatory approval in August to become the first full-fledged foreign owner of a securities broker in the country. China experts in the United States said his swift apology should ensure that no serious damage is done.
“I am sorry and should not have made that remark. I tried to emphasize the strength and longevity of our company, ”Dimon said in a statement issued by the bank.
In a later statement, Dimon said: “It is never right to joke or belittle any group of people, whether it is a country, its leadership or any part of a society and culture. To speak in this way can take away from constructive and thoughtful dialogue in society, which is now more necessary than ever. ”
Speaking at a Boston College series of CEO interviews on Tuesday, Dimon said: “I just made a joke the other day that the Communist Party is celebrating its 100th year – so is JPMorgan. I’ll make a bet we’ll last longer. . ”
“I can not say that in China. They probably listen anyway, “he added.
Beijing’s approval for JPMorgan to take full ownership of its securities business was a milestone in the opening of China’s capital markets after years of gradual movements and pressure from Washington.
Beijing sees the involvement of foreign banks as important to China’s domestic financial development, academics say. However, they add, Western companies doing business in China still need to tread carefully.
“Dimon’s apology shows the degree of respect that foreign enterprises must show towards the Chinese government in order to remain in its good grace and maintain access to the country’s markets,” said Eswar Prasad, a professor at Cornell University.
“I do not think it will have any long-term consequences,” said Leland Miller, CEO of computer firm China Beige Book and an expert on China’s financial system.
Dimon’s comments provoked reaction from commentators in China.
The editor of the nationalist tabloid Global Times and also China’s most outspoken journalist, Hu Xijin, said on Twitter: “Think long-term! And I bet the CPC will survive the US. “
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 wonderful remarks?” according to an English transcript of the remarks.
Global executives usually choose their words carefully when discussing China, where foreign companies are sometimes subject to setbacks for alleged violations.
The Swiss bank UBS got into trouble in 2019, after a remark by one of its senior economists about food inflation and swine fever was interpreted as a racist insult. He was suspended for three months and UBS lost a plum roll on a mortgage deal for a state-backed client.
Earlier this year, Swedish fashion giant H&M and US-based Nike Inc. experienced a setback from Chinese state media and e-commerce platforms after expressing concern over allegations that forced labor was used to manufacture cotton in Xinjiang.
“The Chinese government has generously demonstrated its willingness to restrict or shut down foreign companies’ operations in the country in some cases if they openly challenge the government or even engage in alleged or indirect defamation,” Prasad said.
Dimon was granted an exemption by the Hong Kong government a week ago to visit the Chinese-controlled financial hub without going into quarantine.
Visitors to the city from most countries must 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 trait is that he says his opinion,” said Mike Mayo, an analyst at Wells Fargo.
“It typically works well for him and makes him more authentic and appreciated by investors. But sometimes it gets him in trouble. ”