JPMorgan's Dimon says he regrets China Communist Party comment

By Scott Murdoch and Matt Scuffham

HONG KONG/NEW YORK -JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said on Wednesday he regretted his remarks that the Wall Street bank would last longer than China's Communist Party.

U.S. banks have identified China as a major opportunity for future growth and executives normally go to great lengths to ensure that they do not upset Chinese authorities.

"I regret and should not have made that comment. I was trying to emphasize the strength and longevity of our company," Dimon said in a statement issued by the bank.

Speaking at a Boston College series of CEO interviews on Tuesday, Dimon said: "I made a joke the other day that the Communist Party is celebrating its 100th year - so is JPMorgan. I'd make a bet that we last longer."

"I can't say that in China. They are probably listening anyway," he added.

JPMorgan has major ambitions in China and in August won regulatory approval from Beijing to become the first full foreign owner of a securities brokerage in the country.

That move had been seen as a milestone in the opening up of China's capital markets after years of gradual moves and pressure from Washington.

Beijing sees the involvement of foreign banks as important for China's domestic financial development, academics say. However, Western companies doing business in China still need to tread carefully.

"Dimon's apology shows the degree of deference foreign businesses have to show to the Chinese government in order to remain in its good graces and maintain access to the country’s markets," said Eswar Prasad, a professor at Cornell University.

Asked about Dimon's comments in a press conference on Wednesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said: "Is it really necessary to cite such remarks that are merely to attract people’s attention?"

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