Jamie Dimon brings together the business elite in Shanghai amid Sino-American tensions

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan, lined up with Henry Kissinger and a group of US and Chinese corporate leaders for a summit in Shanghai as global companies try to navigate the worst Sino-US tensions in years.

Next week’s event, part of Dimon’s first visit to mainland China in four years, highlights attempts by US companies to keep their plans on track in the world’s second-largest economy.

The CEOs of the two American giants Starbucks and Pfizer, Baidu and China’s Geely are expected to attend. Kissinger, the centennial statesman and architect of the Sino-American rapprochement in the 1970s, is set to address the gathering by video link.

The event comes on the heels of China’s crackdown on advisory firms that has rocked Western firms that rely on their advice, and Beijing’s ban on major infrastructure operators from buying products from US chip maker Micron Technology. The United States is making it difficult for the Chinese technology sector to access advanced components and machinery.

It will be Dimon’s first time visiting mainland China since he apologized in 2021 for telling American business leaders that his bank would stand up to the Chinese Communist Party.

“The timing matches well with the US-China softening of rhetoric, with Biden advocating a thaw,” said Han Lin, a professor at NYU Shanghai. But he added, “We’ve seen this story before, where things get better and then get worse, and it’s the uncertainty that keeps multinationals on edge.”

JPMorgan executives highlighted the fraught relationship between Beijing and Washington. Chief Operating Officer Daniel Pinto told investors this month that the tension between China and the United States was “something we have to learn to live with because it’s not solvable, but hopefully through dialogue the tension can become constructive.”

No Chinese government figures are scheduled to speak at the conference, which in previous years was addressed by a representative from the Ministry of Finance and an advisor in the State Council or Cabinet.

Kissinger, who turns 100 on May 27, and Condoleezza Rice, the former US Secretary of State, will participate in a session titled “Dialogue on Diplomacy” chaired by Marie Erdos, the bank’s head of asset management. Other sessions include talks on decarbonisation, healthcare and supply chain resilience.

Laxman will bring Narasimhan as part of his first trip to Starbucks’ second-largest market since taking over from Howard Schultz as CEO of the coffee shop chain in March. Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, will join him as part of his second visit to China in two months. Bourla told the Financial Times earlier this month that he still sees a “very big” opportunity for Pfizer in the country.

Robin Li, founder of Chinese internet company Baidu, and Daniel Li, who runs Chinese automaker Geely, are scheduled to speak at the event.

So do Australian mining billionaire Andrew Forrest, Stella Lee, executive vice president of Chinese electric car maker BYD, and Ming Mei, CEO of Singapore-based warehouse operator GLP.

JPMorgan declined to comment.

The meeting comes at a time when relations between the two superpowers are teetering and doubts are growing about the strength of China’s post-pandemic recovery. However, many global companies still look to China’s economy to drive their growth

The raids on the Chinese offices of several consulting firms have made US companies more cautious about doing business in the country, with the US Chamber of Commerce warning last month that the new anti-espionage law “significantly increases the uncertainties and risks involved in doing business in the People’s Republic of China”.

Washington and Beijing are trying to stabilize trade relations. China’s commerce minister and his US counterpart raised concerns about their countries’ trade and investment policies at a meeting in Washington this week, but vowed to keep communication channels open. This is the first visit by a senior Chinese official to the US capital since 2020.

A Conference Board survey released this week showed growing confidence in China’s prospects among CEOs of multinational companies with operations in the country. But 88 percent of them warned that geopolitical tensions were negatively affecting their business and that CEOs in the United States remained more pessimistic than their European counterparts.

The US-based multinational corporation reported mixed results from its China operations in the latest earnings season.

This is the first time since 2019 that the JPMorgan China Summit will be held in person, and more than 2,600 people are expected to attend the event, whose sessions are closed to the media.

Additional reporting by Joe Leahy in Beijing and Jamie Smith in New York

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