America’s most powerful banker has had his fair share of controversial opinions, but rarely has he walked back something as quickly as he did after he joked about the world’s second-most powerful country.
Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase and a defender of capitalism, issued two statements on Wednesday apologizing for his quip on the longevity of the Communist Party of China.
“The Communist Party is celebrating its 100th year. So is JPMorgan. I’d make you a bet we last longer,” he reportedly said at a panel discussion at Boston College on Tuesday, recalling a “joke” he told during his recent trip to Hong Kong.
The fun didn’t last, however. Less than a day after he made the comment, he said he regretted saying it and that he was only trying to emphasize the strength of his bank.
In a second statement that followed his first apology, Dimon said that “it’s never right to joke about or denigrate any group of people,” the Wall Street Journal reported. The bank did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The about-face came apparently without public pressure from the Chinese authorities, who are known to complain about “hurt feelings” to express official displeasure.
But with almost $20 billion in exposure to China, JPMorgan was quick to move into damage control, a glimpse into how multinational corporations have to tread on eggshells when talking about China, given its growing economic sway.