JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dimon has lined up Henry Kissinger and a clutch of American and Chinese corporate leaders for a summit in Shanghai as global companies try to navigate the worst Sino-US tensions in years.
The event next week, part of Dimon’s first visit to mainland China in four years, underscores corporate America’s attempts to keep plans on track in the world’s second-biggest economy.
The chief executives of US giants Starbucks and Pfizer, and China’s Baidu and Geely, are among those due to attend in person. Kissinger, the centenarian statesman and architect of Sino-US rapprochement in the 1970s, is set to address the gathering by video link.
The event follows a Chinese crackdown on consultancy firms that has rattled western companies that rely on their advice, and Beijing’s banning of operators of key infrastructure from buying US chipmaker Micron Technology’s products. The US has been making it harder for China’s tech sector to access cutting-edge components and machinery.
It will be the first time Dimon has visited mainland China since he apologised in 2021 for telling US business leaders that his bank would outlast the Chinese Communist party.
“The timing dovetails well with the softening of rhetoric between the US and China, with Biden calling for a thawing”, said Han Lin, a professor at NYU Shanghai. But he added: “We’ve seen this story before, where things improve and then get worse, and it’s the uncertainty that keeps multinational corporations on edge”.
JPMorgan’s own executives have highlighted the fraught relationship between Beijing and Washington. Tension between China and the US was “something that we have to learn to live with because it’s not resolvable, but hopefully through dialogue that tension becomes constructive”, chief operating officer Daniel Pinto told investors this month.
No Chinese government figures are due to speak at the conference, which has in previous years been addressed by a representative from the finance ministry and an adviser to the State Council, or cabinet.
Kissinger, who turns 100 on May 27, and Condoleezza Rice, former US secretary of state, will join virtually for a session titled “a dialogue on diplomacy” chaired by Mary Erdoes, the bank’s head of asset management. Other sessions include talks about decarbonisation, healthcare and supply chain resilience.
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