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Bloomberg moves new forum for elites from China to Singapore amid fallout of trade war

[WASHINGTON] Fallout from the trade war between the United States and China has prompted Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire media executive and former mayor of New York City, to relocate what was planned as a conference of global business and political leaders in Beijing to rival Davos, the elite annual conclave in Switzerland.

Organizers in New York are moving the event to Singapore, where it is to take place over two days in the first week of November. Bloomberg made the decision after a Chinese partner asked organizers last week to postpone the event, according to people with knowledge of the planning.

Instead, the partner told organizers, President Xi Jinping and other leaders in China want to spotlight an import expo in Shanghai to bolster international interest in trade with the country.

The move highlights the difficulty of conducting business – or diplomacy – in China, both because of rising tensions with the United States and because of an accelerating move toward hard authoritarianism under Xi. The relationship between Washington and Beijing has become increasingly fraught because of the trade war started by President Donald Trump over the summer, and Chinese officials are more likely to question US-led events in China, even those that aim to bring business leaders there.

On Wednesday afternoon, Trump said on Twitter that the trade dispute would be “resolved in time” by him and “China’s great President Xi Jinping.” “Their relationship and bond remain very strong,” he said, continuing to refer to himself in the third person.

The Shanghai event, announced by Xi last year, has taken on new significance for Chinese leaders because of the trade war, which has lasted much longer than they had anticipated, the people said.

Officials are aiming to use the expo to send a positive message about trade to other nations. As a result, they are reluctant to allow other events that could compete with it.

The Chinese partner for the summit meeting, called the New Economy Forum, intended for Beijing asked organizers to postpone the event, even though it was supposed to highlight China’s growing dominance in the global economy. Invitations had been sent to 400 business and political figures, 300 of them from outside China.