Asia

Bank boss slammed over China ‘joke’


A banking heavyweight has issued a grovelling apology after landing in hot water over a crack at the Chinese Communist Party.

A bank boss has apologised after making an awkward joke at the Chinese Communist Party’s expense, sparking intense backlash.

The drama began at an event in Boston in the US earlier this week, when the CEO of investment bank JP Morgan, Jamie Dimon, revealed he had “made a joke” during a recent visit to Hong Kong, which referred to the CCP’s 100th anniversary.

“The Communist Party is celebrating its 100th year. So is JP Morgan,” Mr Dimon said.

“And I’ll make a bet we last longer.

“I can’t say that in China,” he continued. “They probably are listening anyway.”

At the event, the outspoken CEO also raised many eyebrows by making vague comments about “freedom of speech” both in China and Hong Kong.

“Obviously, I don’t have freedom of speech in China … like I have in Hong Kong. I don’t have it in Hong Kong anymore either,” he said.

The comments proved to be controversial within China and across the globe, sparking fears it could harm the bank’s relations with Chinese elites as well as the institution’s plans to expand in the highly lucrative market.

Within hours, Mr Dimon had issued a statement apologising for his choice of words, which was widely interpreted as an attempt to contain the backlash as soon as possible.

“I regret and should not have made that comment,” he said.

“I was trying to emphasise the strength and longevity of our company.”

The apology was then reinforced by a JP Morgan spokesperson, who said, “China and its people are very smart and very thoughtful”, according to CNN.

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“Dimon acknowledges that he should never speak lightly or disrespectfully about another country or its leadership.”

Despite the swift apology, Mr Dimon’s comments sparked intense backlash on social media, with Fudan University lecturer Shen Yi labelling the bank boss “arrogant” on Weibo.

And unsurprisingly, Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of CCP mouthpiece the Global Times, also stuck the boot in, posting on Weibo in response that: “I bet the Chinese Communist Party will outlast the United States of America.”

However, it’s not the first time Mr Dimon has made international headlines with an unfortunate, headline-making gaffe.

In 2018, he famously told attendees at a New York event that he could beat former US President Donald Trump in an election, as he was the smarter of the two.

“I think I could beat Trump,” Mr Dimon said at the time.

“Because I’m as tough as he is, I’m smarter than he is. I would be fine.

“He could punch me all he wants, it wouldn’t work with me. I’d fight right back.”

But again, he backtracked almost immediately, saying in a statement soon after: “I should not have said it. I’m not running for president.”

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