Leaders of America’s biggest banks have said they would follow any US directive to pull business out of China if Taiwan is ever attacked by Beijing.
JPMorgan ( JPM ) CEO Jamie Dimon, Citi ( C ) CEO Jane Fraser and Bank of America ( BAC ) CEO Brian Moynihan pressed U.S. Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer, D-Mos., on the issue Wednesday at a hearing on Capitol Hill.
“We will continue [the] the government’s policy, which has been for decades to work with China, and if they change that attitude, we will immediately change it, just like we did in Russia,” Moynihan said, referring to Russia’s corporate response to the invasion of Ukraine.
Dimon said JPMorgan would “absolutely respect and follow what the United States government says — which is all of you — and what you want us to do.”
Asked what he would do if the decision was left to him, Fraser said “it is very likely that he would materially reduce his presence in the country, if any.”
“We really hope that doesn’t happen,” he added.
Tensions have been rising recently between the United States and China over Taiwan, the self-governing democratic island that Communist leaders in Beijing have long claimed as part of their territory, although they have never ruled it.
Earlier this year, Russia’s attack on Ukraine renewed fears that China might be emboldened to launch a military attack on Taiwan. In an interview released last weekend, US President Joe Biden confirmed that US forces would defend the territory against any attack by mainland China.
All three US donors have a long history of operations in China. Citi, which bills itself as “the first American bank to plant a red, white and blue flag in China,” opened its first office there in 1902 and calls the country “one of its top priorities.”
JPMorgan was launched in 1921, with a footprint that now includes cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
Bank of America provides corporate banking services in China, including a trade finance platform.
Luetkemeyer called on the board to condemn the alleged human rights violations in China’s ruling Communist Party
“Condemn is a very strong word,” Fraser said. “We are certainly very saddened to see this happening, and we don’t want human rights violations to happen anywhere in the world.”
Later, another lawmaker, Rep. Lance Gooden of Texas, asked the CEOs if they “support a free and democratic Taiwan.”
Moynihan said “yes,” while Fraser was not asked to specifically answer that question.
“I support freedom and democracy everywhere. I won’t comment on Taiwan specifically; that’s up to the United States government to make that kind of statement,” Dimon said.