Dimon Confronts New China Reality in First Visit Since Covid

When Jamie Dimon takes center stage at JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s China summit Wednesday, he’ll be confronting a business landscape that looks vastly different from his visit four years ago.

Back in 2019, the last time the flagship event was held in person, the US bank and its Wall Street peers were gearing up to cash in on China’s long-awaited opening of its $60 trillion financial sector.

This year, the conference is being held against the backdrop of a US-China relationship that’s at its worst in decades. A sluggish Chinese economy and Beijing’s increased crackdowns on foreign businesses are forcing global banks to rethink their ambitions in the country, with revised profit goals and job cuts.

“I think it’s pretty obvious that right now everybody’s taking a very low-profile approach to whatever they’re doing with the sole exception of Jamie Dimon,” said Peter Alexander, managing director at Shanghai-based consultancy Z-Ben Advisors Ltd.

This will be the first major event held by a global bank in mainland China since the country exited its zero-Covid policy, after three years of virtual events. More than 2,600 bankers and clients will gather for two days at the Jing An Shangri-La Hotel in the finance hub of Shanghai, a shift from its usual venue in Beijing.

The Wall Street bank will try to put on a good face despite the tensions. The conference opens with a talk titled “We are Back!” by Asia-Pacific Chief Executive Officer Filippo Gori, signaling the firm will emphasize its standard line on China: that it has a long-term commitment to the country despite headwinds.