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China invites top Wall Street bankers to Beijing

This move by the Chinese government comes at a time when Donald Trump threatens to impose punitive tariffs on all Chinese exports

Chinese Communist party officials have invited the heads of America’s leading financial institutions to attend a “China-US Financial Roundtable” in Beijing on September 16th— followed by a meeting with Wang Qishan, vice-president of China.

The meeting was hastily arranged in Beijing, due to US president Donald Trump threatening to impose punitive tariffs on all Chinese exports to the US worth an estimated $267bn.

US executives invited to attend the event include: Stephen Schwarzman, the Blackstone chairman, along with the heads of Citigroup, Goldman, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and former Treasury secretary Hank Paulson. The invitations were sent by Fang Xinghai, a vice-chairman at China’s securities regulator and a former aide to vice-premier Liu He. 

Chinese representatives will include Yi Gang, Mr Zhou’s successor at the People’s Bank of China; banking and insurance regulator Guo Shuqing; and Liao Min, a finance vice-minister who is also Mr Liu’s closest aide.

Chinese officials are hoping that the new group, which is being jointly chaired by Zhou Xiaochuan, a former Chinese central bank governor, and John Thornton, the former Goldman Sachs executive who now chairs mining group Barrick Gold, will meet every six months to discuss Sino-US relations and advise the Chinese government on how to go about economic reforms.

One person involved in the roundtable stated anonymously: “Those of us in the financial industries of both countries realise that we have an obligation to help improve US-China relations. This relationship is too important to be wrecked by a few people.”

The move came after Trump tweeted on Saturday that Apple should make its products in the US rather than China. Apple said on Friday that the proposed tariffs would affect prices for a “wide range” of Apple products, including its Watch, but it did not mention the iPhone.

Over recent months, Trump has imposed or threatened punitive tariffs on Chinese exports worth $250bn over unfair trade practices. On Friday, he said he might also target the remainder of China’s exports to the US. China has so far retaliated in kind and has threatened to tax an additional $60bn of US exports if Trump proceeds with his next tranche of tariffs. Last year China’s imports from the US were valued at $130bn, while its exports to the world’s largest economy exceeded $500bn.

China has been opening up its financial sector in recent months, a move that some Wall Street groups hope to benefit from. Beijng has raised the cap on foreign ownership of securities trading and fund management companies from 49% to 51% in April.

-GBO Correspondent.

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