Bloomberg Forum in Beijing for Business Elites Is Shelved, Chinese Hosts Confirm

WASHINGTON — An influential Chinese organization acknowledged on Wednesday that a new Davos-style forum for global business and political elites hosted by Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire media executive and former mayor of New York, will not be held in Beijing in November as planned.

Mr. Bloomberg moved the forum to Singapore because of fallout from the trade war between the United States and China, people familiar with the planning for the forum told The New York Times last week.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the China Center for International Economic Exchanges said the forum had been changed because of scheduling conflicts with “a number of large-scale events.” The group, which is made up of former senior Chinese government officials, including former Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan, made the announcement with Bloomberg L.P., the financial data and news company founded by Mr. Bloomberg.

The two organizations said they planned to hold the second iteration of the forum in Beijing in November 2019.

Yet, given the high level of tensions between the United States and China, there is a chance Chinese officials could decide later to cancel next year’s event. The trade tensions and anti-liberal attitudes that are being pushed by President Xi Jinping through the ranks of the Chinese Communist Party have led officials in China to cast greater scrutiny on foreign-led activities in the country — especially ones organized by Americans.

Wednesday’s statement was the first time the Chinese group has acknowledged the forum was shelved.

Planners working for Mr. Bloomberg were told in August of a move by Chinese officials to try to postpone the forum until next year, and scrambled to find another site.

The Chinese group said that it would provide support for the Singapore forum, and planners in the United States are still hoping the Chinese partners will bring some prominent Chinese speakers to the event.

In the shadow of the trade war begun by the Trump administration in early July, the Chinese group told Mr. Bloomberg’s organizers last month that Beijing suddenly wanted assurances that no competing events would steal the spotlight from a trade conference scheduled for Shanghai in November, people familiar with the planning had said.

The forced change to the Bloomberg event was surprising, given the influential figures involved. Leaders of its advisory board include Henry A. Kissinger, the former secretary of state and national security adviser, and Henry M. Paulson Jr., the former Treasury secretary, both of whom occasionally meet with Chinese leaders and preach engagement with China. The planners had invited 400 prominent figures, 300 of them from outside China.

The trade war has lasted much longer than Chinese officials had expected. The Trump administration is considering enacting another round of tariffs this week.