The Chinese government has invited Wall Street’s top bankers to a hastily arranged meeting in Beijing as President Donald Trump threatens to impose punitive tariffs on all Chinese exports to the US.
According to three people briefed on the initiative, Chinese Communist party officials have invited the heads of the US’s leading financial institutions to attend a “China-US Financial Roundtable” in Beijing on September 16, followed by a meeting with Wang Qishan, vice-president of China.
Chinese officials hope the new group, which will be jointly chaired by Zhou Xiaochuan, an ex-Chinese central bank governor, and John Thornton, the former Goldman Sachs executive who now chairs miner Barrick Gold, will meet every six months to discuss Sino-US relations and advise Beijing on financial and economic reforms.
“Those of us in the financial industries of both countries realise that we have an obligation to help improve US-China relations,” said one person involved in the roundtable. “This relationship is too important to be wrecked by a few people.”
US executives invited to attend next week’s 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, who has been leading Beijing’s efforts to avoid an all-out trade war with the US.
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.
However, many of the US financial institution heads invited will not be able to attend, largely because the Chinese government organised the event at short notice. Blackstone will be represented by Jon Gray, its president, and Goldman Sachs by John Waldron, the group’s investment banking co-head. Mr Paulson will miss the event.
“They only put this together in the last few weeks and September is booked long in advance,” said one person familiar with the arrangements.