Stephen Bannon, the former White House chief strategist who advocates a tougher U.S. stance toward China, has agreed to speak at an event hosted by a unit of the biggest state-owned Chinese brokerage.
Bannon, who left his White House role three weeks ago after a controversial tenure in Donald Trump’s administration, will address an investor forum in Hong Kong organized by CLSA, an overseas unit of Citic Securities Co. The Sept. 12 talk will focus on “American economic nationalism, the populist revolt and Asia,” according to a CLSA spokeswoman.
A Bannon representative was unsure whether he’ll receive a speaking fee for the event, which will be his first company-sponsored appearance since leaving the government. He’s unconcerned about CLSA’s connections to the Chinese government, his representative said. The CBS Corp. show “60 Minutes” will broadcast an interview with Bannon on Sunday.
Bannon, who has called for direct confrontation with Beijing over trade, told The American Prospect magazine shortly before his White House departure that the U.S. and China are engaged in an “economic war.” He has since returned to his executive chairman role at Breitbart News, which said last month it will accelerate efforts to expand its populist and nationalist message globally.
“He’s the man of the moment, and we believe our clients are interested in what he has to say,” CLSA said in a response to questions from Bloomberg. “He is current and his opinion influences the markets.”
Given Bannon’s stance on China, it’s “ironic” that he’s participating in an event hosted by a company with ties to the Chinese government, said Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics in Hong Kong. Still, Citic Securities is “pretty hands off” when it comes to managing CLSA, Kuijs said. The firm was founded in Hong Kong by two former journalists in 1986 and purchased by Citic Securities in 2013, according to CLSA’s website.
Ties between America and China, the world’s largest economies, have become a growing focus for investors after Trump regularly bashed China for unfair trade practices on the campaign trail.
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