JPMorgan chief becomes first Wall Street boss to visit greater China during pandemic

Jamie Dimon, the chair and chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, said he was “not swayed by geopolitical winds” as he arrived in Hong Kong on Monday, becoming the first boss of a big Wall Street investment bank to visit greater China since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Dimon’s visit coincides with a virtual meeting between US president Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Monday, when the two leaders will attempt to mend relations amid concerns over Beijing’s military activity near Taiwan and its growing nuclear arsenal.

“I am optimistic they will work out rational plans,” Dimon said in a meeting with the Financial Times.

He added that it was “very important” to spend time in Hong Kong, which is the bank’s Asia-Pacific headquarters. “I would have come earlier . . . It is very important for me to see our people,” he said.

Dimon, who the bank said was in the Chinese territory to “thank staff” for their work during the pandemic and meet regulators, is travelling on an exemption from the city’s strict quarantine policy. It was his first visit to Hong Kong in two-and-a-half years.

Travellers from the US must quarantine in a hotel for 21 days at their own expense. However, Hong Kong’s government has allowed a small number of visiting finance executives to bypass the rules.

The quarantine policy, which has been criticised by global banks operating in the city, “does make it harder” to attract and retain talent, Dimon said.

Wall Street banks have faced criticism from US politicians over their business operations in China. They have been accused of financial ties to companies connected to the Chinese Communist party and for overlooking human rights concerns, such as Beijing’s repression of Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang or crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, to chase lucrative returns.

JPMorgan became the first global bank to receive approval from Beijing to fully control its securities business in mainland China in August. It has also launched asset and wealth management businesses.

Dimon will spend just 32 hours in Hong Kong. He will meet JPMorgan’s approximately 4,000 staff in the territory in a virtual “town hall” format because of coronavirus restrictions. He will travel from Hong Kong to London this week.

JPMorgan has marked its 100th year in China this year. “One hundred years later, the world is a very different place, but the importance of this relationship only grows,” the bank said to mark the centennial.

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