For all the pomp and circumstance of Donald Trump’s Beijing trip, its most interesting outcome was a Chinese overture to the titans of global finance, currently ensconced in Wall Street and London. Given the big banks’ position at the apex of of the Western power structure, the move is highly strategic and bears close watching.
Specifically, the watershed has two components. The first is the accord between CIC, China’s top sovereign wealth fund, and Goldman Sachs to set up a USD 5-billion fund to invest in US companies exporting to China. The choice of American partner is significant, of course. Goldman is the most powerful bank in the US and probably the world, the quintessential Wall Street player. Its alumni routinely occupy top positions in the US government, including the present Treasury Secretary. Where Goldman goes, the US power structure often follows.
Beijing’s other move is to open financial institutions to 51% ownership by foreign entities — something Western global banks have long been clamoring for. The CPC leadership is only too aware of the potential disruption, even sabotage, that could result from a too-fast opening of the supremely strategic finance sector. Over the years, Beijing has never hesitated to slow or suspend the process whenever circumstances warranted. That it is now taking this step means China is confident that domestic and international conditions are ripe.
Would these moves make China vulnerable…