SHANGHAI: Organisers of a new business leaders' forum spearheaded by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg have been forced to move the event from Beijing to Singapore, amid growing China-US trade friction and scheduling conflicts with another forum.
The New Economy Forum, planned for Nov 6 to 8, coincides with a massive new import fair in Shanghai that has been endorsed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and aims to demonstrate China's value as a powerful consumer of foreign goods and services.
With no end in sight to the escalating China-US trade war, the Shanghai import fair has taken on heightened symbolic significance, with officials pulling out all the stops to ensure it is a success.
According to forum's website, the event's partner in China, the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, asked that the New Economy Forum in Beijing be rescheduled to the fall of 2019 because of a "growing number of scheduling conflicts in China this year".
A source familiar with the matter said forum organisers had argued - ultimately unsuccessfully - that their event would complement the Shanghai import fair by bringing hundreds of top global business leaders to China at the same time.
However, rather than postpone the event, the venue for the inaugural forum was shifted to Singapore "because of its position as one of the world's leading international and business hubs", the statement said.
The second meeting of the forum would be held in Beijing next year, it said.
The China Center for International Economic Exchanges, a Beijing-based research institute headed by former vice premier Zeng Peiyan, did not reply immediately to an emailed request for a comment.
On launching the New Economy Forum in May, Bloomberg told the Financial Times that its focus was on how the world and China could work together.
The inaugural forum in Singapore will cover topics including global economic management, trade and investment, technology, urbanisation, capital markets, climate change and inclusion, according to the forum's website.
The forum lists former US Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger as an honorary advisory board chair, and former US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and former Vice Premier of China's State Council Zeng Peiyan as co-chairs.
Its advisory board includes Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, former Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, former US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Alibaba Group executive chairman Jack Ma and former chair of the US Federal Reserve Board of Governors Janet Yellen.
Michael Bloomberg founded Bloomberg News, which competes with Reuters' parent Thomson Reuters Corp in providing news and information to banks, hedge funds and others.