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JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has issued two restrained apologies for joking about the Chinese Communist Party


JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon issued two restrained apologies a day after saying his company would outlive the Chinese Communist regime.

Speaking at Boston College on Tuesday, Damon quipped, “I’ve just been in Hong Kong and made a joke that the Communist Party is celebrating its centenary. So is JP Morgan. I’ll bet we’ll last longer.”

I can’t say that in China. “They’re probably listening anyway,” the 65-year-old banker added.

But in a sign that even the King of Wall Street is wary of Beijing, he has since apologized — twice.

First Damon said: ‘I’m sorry and shouldn’t have made that comment. I was trying to emphasize the strength and longevity of our company.

He added hours later: “I am really sorry for my last comment because it is never right to joke or defame any group of people, be it a country or its leadership or any part of a society and culture.

“Speaking in this way can move away from the constructive and deep dialogue in society, which is needed now more than ever.”

The Speech: JPMorgan President Jamie Dimon (pictured in Paris in June) has twice apologized for remarks he made about China at the CEO’s Club at Boston College

Dimon's comments threatened JPMorgan's growth ambitions in China as it won regulatory approval in August to become the country's first full-fledged foreign stock brokerage.  Chinese experts in the United States said his quick apology should ensure no major damage was done.  (Pictured: Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing)

Dimon’s comments threatened JPMorgan’s growth ambitions in China as it won regulatory approval in August to become the country’s first full-fledged foreign stock brokerage. Chinese experts in the United States said his quick apology should ensure no major damage was done. (Pictured: Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing)

China’s Foreign Ministry said today it had noted that JPMorgan CEO Jimmy Dimon regretted a statement he made about the country’s ruling Communist Party and said he hoped the media would stop “amplifying” the issue.

I have noticed reports about how the individual in question has honestly crossed. I think this is the correct position. “I hope the relevant media will stop exaggerating this issue,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a regular daily briefing in response to a question.

Dimon’s remark was a hot topic in Hong Kong financial circles as bankers were surprised that the JPMorgan chief had made the comments given the sensitivities to dealing with China.

Dimon’s comments threatened JPMorgan’s growth ambitions in China as it won regulatory approval in August to become the country’s first full-fledged foreign stock brokerage.

But China experts in the US said Dimon’s quick apology should ensure that no serious harm is done to the bank’s long-term ambitions.

Beijing’s approval of JPMorgan taking 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 argue that the Chinese Communist Party sees the participation of foreign banks as important to China’s domestic financial development. However, they add, Western companies doing business in China still need to tread carefully.

“Dimon’s apology shows the degree of respect that foreign companies have to show the Chinese government in order to maintain its good graces and maintain access to the country’s markets,” said Eswar Prasad, a professor at Cornell University.

“I don’t think this will have any long-term consequences,” said Leland Miller, CEO of data firm China Beige Book and an expert on the Chinese financial system.

Damon’s comments sparked a reaction from commentators in China.

The editor of the national newspaper Global Times, who is also the most talked about Chinese journalist, Hu Xijin, said on Twitter: “Think long term! I bet the CPC will outlast the US.”

Asked by Bloomberg about Dimon’s remarks at a press conference on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian replied, “Why the publicity with some great statements?”

Global executives usually choose their words carefully when discussing China, where foreign companies have sometimes faced a backlash for perceived crimes.

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

Earlier this year, Swedish fashion giant H&M’s and US-based Nike faced a backlash from Chinese state media and e-commerce platforms after expressing concern over allegations of forced labor being used to produce cotton in Xinjiang.

“The Chinese government has clearly demonstrated its willingness to rein in or in some cases shut down the operations of foreign companies in the country if they openly defy the government or even engage in perceived or indirect insults,” Cornell Prasad said.

A week ago, the Hong Kong government granted Dimon an exemption to visit the Chinese-controlled financial center without the need for quarantine.

City visitors from most countries have to stay in hotel quarantine for two to three weeks at their own expense.

He stayed in Hong Kong for 32 hours after arriving by private jet.

Powerful duo: Damon with his wife Judy, described by classmate Jeffrey Immelt - who later became president of General Electric - as 'by far the best-looking, sexiest and smartest girl in the class'

Powerful duo: Damon with his wife Judy, described by classmate Jeffrey Immelt – who later became president of General Electric – as ‘by far the best-looking, sexiest and smartest girl in the class’

Damon has been seen – so far at least – as almost untouchable.

He served 16 years as the bank’s CEO, surviving the financial crisis and making JP Morgan the top performer on Wall Street.

His popularity in China betrays self-confidence – and indeed arrogance – in stark contrast to his British rival, HSBC, which has been accused of “blinding” to Beijing.

There is little sign of his willingness to step down. Despite turning 65, it is understood he wants to stay for another five years, telling Fox Business over the summer: “I won’t play golf and smell flowers.”

He survived throat cancer and underwent emergency heart surgery at the start of the epidemic.

He has outdone other giants who led their banks into the financial crisis, including Goldman Sachs chairman Lloyd Blankfein.

Damon’s success is due to his sheer energy, and while he has a good sense of humor, this can quickly turn into a violent temper.

He gets up at 5 a.m. and is fully informed and in the office by 7.30 a.m., though he supposedly cut back on running and tennis.

He appears at the events alongside his wife, Judy, whom we acquired at Harvard and is described by classmate Jeffrey Immelt – who later became president of General Electric – as ‘the best-looking, sexiest, and smartest girl in the class’.

He is said to remember the names of every young man he meets but also has a list of those he owes favors to. He was never afraid to speak out and was even willing to clash openly with heads of state.

In 2011 he asked French President Nicolas Sarkozy to persuade the G-20 to avoid “excessive regulation” of banks.

But Sarkozy saw the red and launched an attack on bankers, saying that during the financial crisis they had taken steps that “defy common sense” and affected millions of people.

Unsurprisingly, Damon’s time at JPMorgan made him a very wealthy man. Last year, he earned £24m, which is the same as his wages in 2019.

But a big stain on his notebook was the 2012 London Whale scandal, which led to a Canary Wharf banker at JP Morgan losing a whopping £4.2 billion.

Dimon attends a lunch in honor of French President Emmanuel Macron at the State Department in Washington, April 24, 2018

Dimon attends a lunch in honor of French President Emmanuel Macron at the State Department in Washington, April 24, 2018

Damon initially dismissed the story as “a storm in a teapot,” which he soon regretted.

Later, he was more remorseful, describing the deals as “flawed, complex, poorly reviewed, poorly executed, and poorly monitored.” The bank eventually paid more than £1 billion in fines to settle US and UK regulatory investigations into the matter.

For a while, Dimon’s rock star status was under threat as regulators questioned whether banks were unable to control their employees after the financial crisis and whether bankers were still addicted to risk.

But if competitors think it’s Damon’s end, they’re wrong.

He knows how to retain power and has either fired or sidelined potential successors, including Bill Winters, who took over management of Standard Chartered, and Jes Staley, who went to Barclays.

However, question marks have grown over whether Damon could really last for another five years.

There has been grumbling that British banker Marian Lake, a University of Reading graduate and single mother of three, is close to taking the title.

Lake is responsible for managing the consumer lending arm of JPMorgan.

If Lake succeeds in achieving this, it will become the second major British CEO on Wall Street with Scottish-born Jane Fraser led by Citigroup. But for now, just like the Chinese Communist Party, Dimon appears well established.



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