Arnault’s surprise mission in China

Arnault’s surprise mission in China

Bernard Arnault’s visit in China, the first after the start of the pandemic, is a mission with duplicitous value. First of all, it’s a visit from the most important businessman in the field. But the value is also brought on by the diplomatic activities related to the visit, as LVMH’s owner wishes to preserve ties with China. This is especially true now, as the People’s Republic is clashing with Washington and Western countries are discussing “de-risking” when it comes to businesses active in China.

The mission

Arnault’s trip to China was made known. But it wasn’t clear how imminent it was. Photos published on Asian social media (an example on the right) portray the president and CEO of LVMH walking in Beijing on June 27th. These photos, says Reuters, show he was with his daughter Delphine (president and CEO of Christian Dior) and Jean (marketing director in Louis Vuitton), together with Monika Figlewicz (president of Dior China). Some believe Pietro Beccari (president and CEO of Louis Vuitton) could potentially join the group. The delegation visited various stores inside Beijing’s malls, such as WF Central and SKP malls.

The diplomacy of luxury

International press didn’t miss the fact that Arnault’s mission followed that of François-Henri Pinault (patron of Kering) just a few months before. Other entrepreneurs making trips to China, even if outside the fashion industry, include Elon Musk (CEO of Tesla) and Jamie Dimon (CEO of JP Morgan). “Beijing courts global CEOs – says CNN – to try putting and end to the increasingly lowering trust in Chinese companies and, at the same time, cooling the support of these companies to Western governments”. Luxury diplomacy is ongoing, as it tries to safeguard its most prolific market during a phase filled with international tensions and conflicting interests with the Chinese Communist party.

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