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Jamie Dimon: Trump was right about China, and the Chinese know it

Erin Fuchs
Deputy Managing Editor

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon said Tuesday that President Donald Trump got it right when he accused China of having unfair trade practices and stealing America’s intellectual property.

“Had trade been fair with China?” Dimon asked rhetorically at a town hall event in Washington, D.C. with Yahoo Finance’s editor-in-chief, Andy Serwer.

With the assumption that the answer was “no,” Dimon went on to say, “The president pointed this out, and I hate to tell you, he’s right. We all know that. The Chinese know it. They steal intellectual property. There’s cybersecurity. There are very high tariffs for certain things.”

“When he’s right, he’s right,” Dimon added, later on. “There’s no reason in saying he’s Trump, therefore, he’s wrong.”

Trump made China a frequent talking point during the presidential campaign and after. He accused China of devaluing its currency, intellectual property theft and even “raping the US” with its unfair trade policy. While Trump’s language on China is harsh, Dimon is hardly the only fellow critic of the country’s trade practices (though Larry Summers has taken serious issue with Trump’s currency-manipulation claims).

In 2015, William Evanina, a national counterintelligence executive, estimated that the Chinese government was behind 90% of cyber-attacks in the US related to economic espionage, according to a Bloomberg report. And that kind of espionage costs US businesses $400 billion a year, he said. Meanwhile, US companies doing business in China have claimed to be unfairly targeted by regulators.

Dimon says that he wants to change this reality, for the good of both the US and China. “I think their lack of market reform has hurt them,” he said. “There’s no compelling reason these two powers have to go to [a trade] war … But there’s a pretty compelling reason they should work together.”

JPMorgan has a vested interest in improved relations. The bank does business in China and in February announced that it had won approval to underwrite bonds in the country’s interbank market. JPMorgan was the first US-headquartered bank to win this approval in China, which has the world’s third-largest bond market.

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