Stephen Bannon, Outspoken Critic of China, Has Subtler Message in Hong Kong Visit

CLSA would not say whether it had paid Mr. Bannon for his appearance. “CLSA does not discuss any agreements that we might have with speakers,” said Simone Wheeler, a spokeswoman for the firm.

Over lunch in a private room at the Grissini restaurant in the Grand Hyatt hotel, overlooking Victoria Harbour, Mr. Bannon shared his insights on a range of topics — including the United States electoral system, immigration and the escalating conflict over North Korea — with a small group of investors, according to two people who were in attendance.

The event was organized by CLSA for important clients of its brokerage business.

During the lunch, which lasted more than an hour, Mr. Bannon told the group that Mr. Trump had great respect for Mr. Xi and felt that the two leaders could find a solution to the North Korea crisis, according to the two investors in attendance, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

In his keynote address, in a crowded Grand Hyatt ballroom, Mr. Bannon discussed economic nationalism in the United States and its spread across the globe, including in Britain. He called the U.K. Independence Party, which pushed successfully last year for Britain’s exit from the European Union, a professional version of the Tea Party movement in the United States, according to one audience member. The address was closed to the news media.

Some people in the audience left with the impression that Mr. Bannon, though no longer in the White House, still had direct knowledge of the inner workings of Mr. Trump’s administration. At one point, he joked that there were White House officials who felt, as he did, that Facebook and Google should be public utilities. Several attendees expressed surprise that Mr. Bannon was so articulate.

Mr. Bannon has not been shy about his views on China. In an interview with “60 Minutes” that was broadcast on Sunday, Mr. Bannon said that the United States needed to take a tougher stance against Beijing. He said that China was “at economic war with the U.S.” and that it was Washington’s turn to respond.

In an August interview with The American Prospect, a left-leaning magazine, Mr. Bannon predicted that within a decade, the United States would go to war in the South China Sea, where Beijing has been building military installations. Mr. Bannon was removed from the White House soon afterward.

During Tuesday’s events, Mr. Bannon seemed more subdued about the…

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